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H. F. ECKER i 

For Instructional Purposes Only. 





The Organization used in this Text is based upon 

Tables of Organization 
Approved 28 March 1941 
Revise 10 January 1942. 




Paragraph Page 

Assumption of the Defense 1 1 

Defense and Delaying Action ..... 2 1 

Mission of Infantry in Defense 3 2 

Selection of Position 4 2 

Field Fortifications 5 2 

Distribution of Troops . 6 3 

Security 7 3 

Battle Position 8 4 

Depths and Frontages 9 5 

Boundaries 10 9 

Observation 11 9 

Defensive Fires 12 9 

Antitank Defense 13 10 

Antiaircraft Defense 14 14 

Organization of Ground 15 14 


Reconnaissance of Commanders 16 15 

Orders 17 15 

Plans 18 16 


Entry into Defensive Combat 19 17 

Dispositions on Battle Positions 20 17 

Outpost Dispositions 21 17 

Construction of Defense 22 18 

Night Dispositions 23 18 

Defense in Fog or Smoke 24 18 


Outpost 25 18 

Defensive Battle 26 19 


General . . 27 20 

Characteristics 28 20 

Effectives . . 29 20 

Distribution of Troops 30 21 

Location of Defenses 31 21 

Dugouts and Shelters 32 21 

Readiness for Action 33 21 

Maintenance of Contact 34 22 



Paragraph Page 

General 35 

Night Withdrawal 36 23 

Daylight Withdrawal 37 24 


General 38 25 

Selection of Position 39 25 

Distribution of Troops 40 25 

Fire Plan 41 26 

Withdrawal 42 26 


Characteristics 43 26 

Location of Main Line of Resistance 44 26 

Fire Plan 45 27 

Organization of Defense 46 27 

Distribution of Troops ... 47 27 

Chemicals 48 28 


General 49 28 


Military Importance 50 28 

Defense of Stream Lines 51 28 


Location of Main Line of Resistance . . 52 29 

Organization for Defense 53 30 


Purpose 54 30 

Arrangements for Support . , 55 30 

Sequence of Arranging Fires 56 31 

Coordination 57 31 

General 58 31 

Command Liaison 59 31 

Liaison with Infantry Battalions 60 31 

Requests for Artillery Fire 61 32 

Artillery Action on Requests 62 33 

Attached Artillery 63 33 

Use of Signals 64 34 

Small and Close Targets 65 34 

Designation of Targets 66 34 

Infantry Protecting Artillery 67 35 























Paragraph Page 

The Rifle Squad, Composition and Armament 

Instructions to the Squad Leaders 

Organization of the Squad Position 

Conduct of the Defense 

Duties of Squad Leader 

Position and Duties of Assistant Squad Leader .... 

Defense Against Tank Attack 

Defense Against Air Attack 





The BAR Squad, Composition and Armament 78 57 

Characteristics of the Automatic Rifle 

The Automatic Rifle Team 

Principal Defensive Fire Missions 

Selection of Firing Positions 

Preparation of Firing Positions 

Fire Direction and Control 

Defense Against Tank Attack 

Antiaircraft Fire 

Outpost Duty 



The Rifle Platoon, Composition and Armament .... 88 63 

The Platoon Defense Area 89 63 

Instructions to the Rifle Platoon Leaders 90 69 

Reconnaissance of the Platoon Area 91 70 

Instructions to Squad Leaders 92 71 

Organization of the Ground 93 72 

Communication 94 72 

Arrangements for Securing Ammunition, Food and 

Water 95 73 

Coordination of Fires 96 73 

Conduct of the Defense 97 73 

Procedure in Hasty Defense 98 74 

The Support Platoon in Defense 99 74 

Missions of the Support Platoon 100 75 




















Paragraph Page 

Actions of Support Platoon Leader 101 75 

Plan and Procedure of Support Platoon Defense . . . 102 75 

Counterattacks 103 75 

Security Missions of the Rifle Platoon 104 76 

The Platoon as the Support of an Outpost 105 76 

The Platoon as a Picket 106 

The Platoon as a Detached Post 107 78 

Position Defense 108 78 



The Weapons Platoon, Rifle Company, Composition 

and Armament 109 83 

Characteristics of Weapons . 110 85 

General Ill 86 

Duties of Personnel, Platoon Headquarters, in 

Combat 112 86 

The Mortar Section in Defense 113 87 

Fire Direction and Control (Mortar) . . 114 87 

Firing Positions (Mortar) 115 88 

The Light Machine-Gun Section in Defense 116 90 

Duties of Light Machine-Gun Section Leader in 

Combat 117 93 

Firing Positions (Light Machine Gun) 118 93 


The Rifle Company, Composition and Armament . . . 119 95 

General 120 96 

Frontages and Depths 121 96 

Assumption of the Defensive 122 99 

Procedure in the Deliberate Defensive 123 99 

Defense Order 124 99 

Operation Map 125 101 

Initial Steps Upon Receipt of Defense Order 126 101 

Tentative Plan — Plan of Reconnaissance 127 101 

Ground Reconnaissance 128 101 

Completion of Plan 129 102 

Company Defense Order 130 102 

Procedure in Hasty Defense 131 102 

The Plan of Defense 132 103 

Local Security 233 103 

Exterior Defense of the Company Position 134 104 

Siting of Weapons 135 104 


Paragraph Page 

Interior Defense of the Position 136 107 

Support Platoon 137 107 

Outposts 138 108 

Antiaircraft and Antitank Warning Posts 139 108 

Company Command Post 140 108 

Company Observation Post . . 141 109 

Priority of Work 142 109 

Reserve Company 143 109 

Supply of Ammunition 144 111 

Food and Water 145 111 

Delaying Action 146 112 

Support of an Outpost 147 113 

Security in Position Defense 148 114 

Guard Service 149 114 

Observation 150 115 

Night Patrols 151 115 

Sniping 152 116 



The AA-AT Platoon, Weapons Company, Infantry 

Battalion, Composition and Armament 153 119 

General 154 120 

Characteristics and Missions 155 121 

Antitank Positions 156 122 

Selection of Position 157 125 

Reconnaissance for Antitank Positions 158 126 

Coordination of Antitank Defense ..... 159 126 

Methods of Strengthening the Antitank Defense . . . 160 126 

Action Preceding and During Hostile Attack ...... 161 127 

Fire Direction and Control 162 128 

Warning Measures 163 128 

Ammunition Supply 164 129 



The 81mm Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, 

Infantry Battalion, Composition and Armament . 165 131 

General 166 132 

Characteristics of 81mm Mortar 167 133 

Duties of Leaders 168 133 

Missions in Defense 169 134 

Paragraph Page 

Unsuitable Mortar Targets 170 137 

Initial Reconnaissance 171 138 

Selection of Mortar Positions 172 138 

Alternate Positions 173 141 

Occupation of Position 174 141 

Improvement of Positions 175 141 

Primary Targets 176 141 

Secondary Targets 177 142 

Methods of Employment 178 142 

Methods of Assigning Missions 179 143 

Prepared Fires 180 143 

Manner of Assigning Prepared Fires 181 143 

Schedule Fires 182 143 

Methods of Observing and Controlling Mortar Fire . 183 143 

Location of Observation Posts 184 144 

Coordination with Rifle Units 185 144 

Reorganization 186 144 

Outposts 187 144 

Use of Carts 188 145 

Ammunition Supply 189 145 




The Machine Gun Platoon, Weapons Company, 

Infantry Battalion, Composition and Armament 190 147 
Considerations Governing Employment of 

Machine Guns in Defense 191 149 

Mission in Defense 192 149 

Reconnaissance 193 150 

Orders 194 150 

The Fire Plan 195 151 

Final Protective Line 196 151 

Fire Direction and Control 197 155 

Machine Gun Fire Unit 198 156 

Sectors of Fire 199 156 

Distribution of Guns . ; 200 156 

Protection for Machine Guns 201 157 

Locating Machine Guns in the Defensive Area 202 158 

Fire Positions 203 159 

Primary Positions 159 

Alternate Positions 159 

Supplementary Positions 159 

Dummy Emplacements 160 

Movement into Position 204 160 

Organization of Gun Positions 205 160 

Siting the Guns 206 162 


Paragraph Page 

Vulnerability 207 162 

Concealment 208 162 

Assignment of Sectors of Fire 209 163 

Coordination of Fire 210 164 

Assignment of Final Protective Lines 211 164 

Communications 212 165 

Ammunition Supply 213 165 

Reserve Battalion Machine Guns 214 165 

Conduct of the Defense 215 166 

Antiaircraft Missions 216 173 

Delaying Action and Withdrawal 217 173 

Conventional Signs 218 175 



The Weapons Company, Infantry Battalion, 

Composition and Armament 219 177 

General 220 177 

Dual Status of Weapons Company Commander .... 221 178 

Normal Procedure 222 178 

Reconnaissance 223 179 

Fire Plan 224 179 

Orders 225 180 

Priority of Work and Supervision 226 181 

Action During Attack 227 181 

Antiaircraft Missions 228 182 

Hasty Defense 229 182 

Delaying Action 230 182 

Supply 231 183 

Ammunition 232 183 

Transportation 233 183 



Headquarters Company, Infantry Battalion, 

Composition and Armament 234 185 

General 235 186 

Battalion Headquarters 236 186 

The Battalion Commander 186 

The Battalion Executive Officer 187 

The Battalion Plans and Training Officer .... 187 


Paragraph Page 
The Battalion Adjutant and Personnel Officer . 187 

The Battalion Intelligence Officer 187 

The Battalion Supply Officer 188 

The Battalion Liaison Officers 188 

The Battalion Medical Officer 188 

Company Headquarters 237 188 

Intelligence Section 238 188 

Supply Section 239 189 

Medical Section 240 189 

Communication Platoon 241 189 

The Message Center and Messenger Section . . . 189 

The Wire Section 189 

The Radio Visual and Panel Section 189 

Transportation 242 189 



The Infantry Battalion, Composition and Armament 243 191 

General 244 192 

Reconnaissance 245 193 

Plan of Defense 246 193 

Security 247 194 

Combat Intelligence 248 195 

Distribution of Troops and Weapons . 249 195 

Rifle Companies 195 

Weapons Company 195 

Machine Gun Platoons 195 

81mm Mortar Platoon 196 

AA-AT Platoon 197 

Organization of the Ground 250 197 

Defensive Fires 251 201 

Counterattack 252 205 

Communication . 253 206 

Battalion Defense Order 254 207 

Occupation of Position 255 208 

Reserve Company 256 208 

Withdrawal from Action . . 257 209 

Night Withdrawals 258 210 

Daylight Withdrawals 259 210 

Delaying Action 260 211 

Reserve Battalion in Defense . 261 212 

Flank Battalion in Defense 262 212 




Concept of Defense Frontispiece 

Regimental Defense Area, illustrating frontages and 

depths, Fig. 1 7 

Types of Antitank Trenches, Fig. 2 11 

Types of Road blocks and antitank obstacles, Fig. 3 12 

Types of Road blocks, Fig. 4 13 

Foxhole, circular, Fig. 5 39 

Foxhole, Fig. 6 39 

Camouflaged Foxhole, Fig. 7 40 

Rectangular Type Foxhole, Fig. 8 41 

Rectangular Type Foxhole with Rifleman seated, Fig. 9 . . 41 

Two-Man Foxhole on Forward Slope of Hill, Fig. 10 42 

Two-Man Foxhole, showing construction, Fig. 11 43 

Two-Man Foxhole, showing men at rest, Fig. 12 43 

Chevron type of slit trench, Fig. 13 44 

Skirmisher's Trench, Fig. 14 45 

Rifle Squad in Defense, Fig. 15 46 

Rifle Squad in Defense reinforced by BAR Team, Fig. 16 47 

One Method of Rifle Squad antiaircraft defense, Fig. 17 51 

Subdivisions of an Outpost, Fig. 18 53 

Automatic Rifleman, Fig. 19 58 

Automatic Rifleman Firing at Hostile Aircraft, Fig. 20 . . 58 

BAR Team in Foxholes, Fig. 21 61 

Automatic Rifleman of BAR Team in Foxhole with 

teammate in shallow communicating trench, Fig. 22 . . . 61 

Rifle Platoon in Defense, Fig. 23 65 

Rifle Platoon in Defense, Fig. 24 67 

The 60mm Mortar Squad, Fig. 25 84 

The Light Machine-Gun Squad, Fig. 26 85 

60mm Mortar in Position, Fig. 27 88 

60mm Mortar Emplacement, Fig. 28 89 

Employment of light machine guns, Fig. 29 91 

"U" Type light machine-gun emplacement, Fig. 30 94 

Three-hole light machine-gun emplacement, Fig. 31 94 

Rifle Company in Defense, Fig. 32 97 

Rifle Company in Defense, Fig. 33 105 

The Antitank Squad, (cal. .50 MG) Fig. 34 120 

Antitank Gun positions, Fig. 35 123 

The 81mm Mortar Squad, Fig. 36 132 

81mm Mortar concentrations, Fig. 37 135 

81mm Mortar in firing position, Fig. 38 138 

81mm Mortar emplacement, Fig. 39 139 

The Heavy Machine-Gun Section, (cal. .30) Fig. 40 148 

The Heavy Machine-Gun Squad, (cal. .30) Fig. 41 148 

Machine guns on Final Protective Lines, Fig. 42 153 

Rifleman in foxhole for close-in protection of machine-gun 

emplacement, Fig. 43 157 

Heavy machine-gun emplacement, Fig. 44 161 

Heavy machine-gun emplacement, Fig. 44-A 161 




Heavy machine-gun dugout emplacement, Fig. 45 163 

Machine guns in defense of a hill, Fig. 46 167 

Machine guns in defense of a ridge, Fig. 47 167 

Machine guns in defense of a ravine, Fig. 48 168 

Machine guns in defense of a woods, Fig. 49 169 

Diagram of machine guns emplaced to provide for a 

mutual exchange of fires with units on flanks, Fig. 50 . . 170 

Machine guns emplaced to protect own units, Fig. 51 171 

Machine guns emplaced within a battalion defense area, 

Fig. 52 172 

Infantry Battalion in Defense, Fig. 53 199 

Infantry Battalion in Defense, Fig. 54 203 








TEXT: Defensive Combat of Small Infantry Units, 

MCS, (Revised 1943). Tables of Organiza- 
tion revised 15 April, 1943. 

MATERIALS: Aerial photograph as listed in subparagraph 
"a" of General Situation ; Overlay. 

PURPOSE : To give the student application in the utiliza- 
tion of the terrain, the location and coordi- 
nation of units and infantry weapons as ap- 
plied in the organization of a company and 
a battalion defense area, and the conduct 
of the defense. . 

1. General Situation.— a. Special Aerial Photograph, 
1:3,400; Overlay. .. * 

b. Pursuant to successful landings on a beach south of 
the area shown on the aerial photograph, ; the 4thMarDiv is 
moving rapidly north with the mission of intercepting a larger 
Red force known to be advancing against the beachhead. 

c. The lstBn23dMar, an element of the Blue force, has 
been moving to the north via ROUTE 645. Contact is immi- 
nent and the battalion is marching in a semi-deployed forma- 
tion. Machine-gun units are attached to rifle companies in 
readiness for prompt action. An advance guard. Company "C", 
is covering the zone of advance. 

d. At 1550, upon reaching the next designated phase 
line, ROUTE 608, the company commanders of Companies "A" 
and "B" were met by a runner bearing. a message: from the 
battalion commander. In accordance with this .message, Cap- 
tains Companies "A" and "B" followed runner to hill-top "X" 
where they joined the battalion commander and staff person- 
nel, were oriented, and received an oral order as follows: 

'•'Refer to your photos. 

"The regimental commander has informed me .that divisional 
reconnaissance detachments to our front a,re being driven back toward 
CEDAR RUN. Our aircraft reports , strong: RED- forces of all arms 
moving south. We may expect a weak attack within: two, hours, and a 
strong one within six hours. • ■•.■..-, 

"The lstBnl4thMar (artillery) is in direct support of the regiment. 
One normal barrage, as shown on photo, has been allotted to this 

"The 2dBn is on our right and the 24thMar on our left. 

"Company "C" now occupies this high ground. It will remain in 
position until the establishment of the combat outpost. 

"This battalion, with the lst37mmGunPlat of the RegtWpnCo 
attached, will immediately occupy, organize and defend an interior 
defensive position on the MLR, which is along this high ground over- 
looking CEDAR RUN (pointing). 

"Company "A" with the lstSeclstPlatCo"D" (machine guns) 
attached, will occupy, organize and defend the left forward defense 
area as shown on the photo. Tentatively your left boundary will go 
up the draw just left of that line of trees, and include the farmhouses 
there (pointing to photo). Your right boundary will include that 
wooded draw (pointing). 

"Company "B" with the 2dSeclstPlatCo"D" and the 2dPlatCo"D" 
attached, will occupy organize, and defend the right forward defense 
area from that draw (pointing), exclusive, to the battalion right 
boundary (tentative), as shown on the photo. 

"Company "C" will establish immediately a combat outpost of 
one platoon with the 3dPlatCo"D" attached, along the near bank of 
CEDAR RUN to the front. Route of withdrawal of outpost — along 
either battalion boundary. Company "C" will organize and be pre- 
pared to defend the rear of the battalion defense area south of ROUTE 
608. It will remain mobile for counterattack into either front line 
company defense area. Counterattack directive later. 

"3d Platoon, Company "D", upon completion of outpost mission, 
will be emplaced along the edge of woods to our rear (pointing) 
with the mission of executing long range fires on the distant ridge 
line to the front. Major "Company D" will coordinate the missions 
of all machine guns. Upon arrival of reserve guns, Major "Company 
D" will emplace them, paying particular attention to the draws in 
Company "B" defense area that are not already covered by automatic 
weapons fire, and to the flanks of the battalion defense area. 

"Lieutenant "Mortar Platoon" — Look for suitable position areas 
for the 81mm mortars. Primary target areas are as shown on my photo. 

"Lieutenant "37mm Gun Platoon" — Reconnoiter CEDAR RUN 
as a tank obstacle. Be prepared to make recommendations for the 
location of your guns and suitable areas for the employment of anti- 
tank mines. 

"Company Commanders submit overlays showing plan of fires. 

"Priority of defensive installations: 
Clearing fields of fire. 

Antitank obstacles, road blocks and mine fields. 

Machine gun, mortar, and antitank emplacements. 
Camouflage continuous. 

"Administrative details later. 

"Command posts; Battalion— See photo. Companies— report loca- 
tion when established, 
j ^ "Bn pbservation3^ostS-Sei ,photo." 

V. TO 15T-PLT. 2 


Machine guns form the skeleton of the battle position. Both the 
light machine guns and the heavy machine guns are at the tactical 
disposal of the battalion commander and he builds his defense upon 
them. Accordingly a battalion commander's order for a defense would 
usually contain more detail as to the employment of such weapons 
than the above order, including missions, number of sections to be 
placed in forward positions and those to be placed in rear positions, 
approximate position areas, and sectors of fire. In the given situation, 
however, previous attachment of machine guns to the rifle companies 
for the approach march, lack of time for the detailed reconnaissance 
and planning involved, and, to a lesser extent, the difficult nature of 
the terrain permit initial decentralization of control of the machine 
guns. Therefore, two of the three machine-gun platoons remain at- 
tached to the forward companies. Provision is made, however, for 
the coordination of their fires by Major "Weapons Company," with a 
view to necessary modification of dispositions to be made when op- 
portunity permits. See Text, paragraph 210. 

The reasons which dictate attachment of heavy machine guns to 
forward companies similarly demand that the company commanders 
concerned be responsible, at least initally, for the employment of the 
light machine guns of the Weapons Platoons. 

2. Special Situation. — a. You are Captain "Company "A". 
You have just received the battalion commander's order for 
the defense. (Certain of the other elements affecting the de- 
fense of the battalion defense area, are or will be, emplaced 
as shown on the overlay.) 

3. First Requirement. — a. Indicate on the Overlay the 

following : 

(1) Location of all your machine guns (both at- 
tached heavy machine guns and light machine guns). 

(2) Location of your front line platoons. 

(3) Location of your 60mm mortars; their pri- 
mary target areas. 

b. In positioning the support platoon you plan (indi- 
cate choice by number) : 

(1) To have it occupy, organize and defend a de- 
fense area east of draw #6. 

(2) To have it occupy, organize and defend a de- 
fense area to the west of draw #6. 

(3) To have it occupy, organize, and defend a de- 
fense area across the entire width of the rear of the company 
defense area. 

(4) To hold it mobile for counterattacking into the 
right or left platoon defense area, and to prepare a platoon 
defense area to the left of draw #6. 

(5) To hold it mobile for counterattacking into the 
right or left platoon defense area, and to prepare a platoon 
defense area to the right of draw #6. 


c. Indicate on the overlay your choice in "b" above. 

L Special Situation, continued.— a. You are Captain 
"Company C". You have completed the organization of the 
cpnibat outpost and your plans for defending the rear of the 
battalion area. You receive the following message from the 
Battalion Commander: 

"Prepare counterattack plans as follows: 

Plan I— 4n case of an enemy penetration of Com- 
' pany "B" area. 
•* "Plan II— In case of an enemy penetration of Com- 
• ■•' ■■ pany "A" area. 
"Attached hereto— overlay showing: 

'"'/' assumed penetrations; 

machine guns and mortars available 

for support of counterattack ; 
r Company "C" assembly area." 

NOTE: The accompanying overlay contains only such information as 
is pertinent to Plan. I. Plan II is not involved in the Require- 

5. Second Requirement.— -The details of Plan I as submit- 
ted by Captain "Company C". (Describe your plan by entering 
appropriate symbols on the accompanying overlay and by re- 
marks on your paper in the following form.) 

Plan for Counterattack 

LD ____________________ _ 1 _____ "* 

Route to LD ____________ 

Direction of Attack _ __ _________ _ 

Formation ______________ _____ 

Scheme of Maneuver 

Ob j ective 

Employment pf 81mm Mortars (four available) . 

Position areas ___ 

Initial fires (show on overlay by 

symbols for secondary targets, circles with di- 
ameters of 100 yards.) 

Signal to lift 

Subsequent fires 

Employment of 60mm Mortars (three available) 

Position areas ■__■_: 

Initial fires (show on overlay by 

symbols for secondary targets, circles with di- 
ameters of 50 yards.) : 

Signal to lift 

Subsequent fires 

Employment of light Machine Guns (three available) 

Position areas 

Initial sectors of fire 

Signal to lift 

Subsequent fires 

If your plan for counterattack would include requests for 
fire support from other weapons you know to be available to 
the battalion commander, state the nature of the supporting 
fires you would request. 

12440 MCS QUANTICO, VA. 7-16-43-1500 







RD 3725-4 











© C9 


OS u 

i ° 




1. Assumption of the Defense.— Small infantry units take 
up the defense upon orders of higher authority or when pur- 
suant to their mission developments in the situation make it 
necessary to assume the defense. 

Taking up the defense may be imposed by the enemy 
or it may be deliberately adopted, either temporarily with a 
view to the ultimate assumption of the offensive under more 
favorable conditions, or locally to economize forces in one 
locality with a view to massing superior forces in another. 
In either case, relative weakness on the part of the defensive 
forces is to be presumed. The defense must endeavor to 
compensate for this weakness by intensive resort to screening 
and concealment of its dispositions, to methodical preparation 
of fires, and to thorough knowledge, utilization and organiza- 
tion of the terrain. 

The defense seeks to act by surprise. It frequently 
varies its procedure. Every effort is made to keep the enemy 
in doubt as to the location of the main line of resistance and 
the principal elements of the defense. Changes in defensive 
arrangements, camouflage, dummy works, skillful screening 
by securing detachments, and the activity of contact detach- 
ments in advance of the battle position mislead the enemy, 
induce him to adopt faulty dispositions, and expose him to 
surprise fire action. Unmasked defensive dispositions will be 
promptly neutralized, if not destroyed, by superior hostile 
means of action. 

While the primary means of action of the defense is 
fire, the defender must be mobile and aggressive. The great 
stopping power of the fire of infantry weapons, which is 
increased by organization of the ground, permits wide fronts 
to be guarded by relatively weak holding elements. The 
economy of force thus effected enables the defending infantry 
to hold out reserves as maneuver units. It shifts these forces 
so as to meet the most determined blows of the attacker with 
maximum strength and counterattacks at points of decisive 

2. Defense and Delaying Action. — Depending on the object 
to be accomplished, defensive action may take the form of a 
sustained defense or of delaying action. The sustained de- 
fense seeks to stop an enemy attack in place. Delaying action 
seeks to hold off a decisive engagement, pending the develop- 
ment of more favorable conditions for battle, either in respect 
to time or to place. 

3. Mission of Infantry in Defense. — The mission of the 
infantry in sustained defense is, with the support of the 
other arms, to stop the enemy by fire in front of the battle 
position, to repel his assault by close combat if he reaches 
it, and to eject him by counterattack in case he enters it. 

4. Selection of Position. — Commanders of small infantry 
units exercise only a limited latitude in the choice of positions. 
The general location of the main line of resistance is indicated 
by higher authority. Its detailed location is determined on 
the ground by infantry commanders. The dominant factors 
influencing the detailed location of the main line of resist- 
ance are observation (both the defender's and the enemy's) 
and the location of natural obstacles. 

The defense seeks to see while not being seen. The 
main line of resistance should cover terrain features essential 
to observation of the foreground of the position. As far as 
practicable, it should deny to the enemy facilities for obser- 
vation over the approaches to the position from the rear. 
Considerations of concealment sometimes cause the defender 
to occupy apparently less favorable terrain in preference to 
ground offering greater protection or more extensive fields 
of fire. This sometimes leads to the occupation of reverse 
slope positions where an adequate field of fire can be secured. 
In such case, outposts, including sufficient machine guns for 
the required long-range fire missions, hold the crest in front. 

Full advantage must be taken of natural obstacles which 
give protection against tanks. Good tank obstacles are unf ord- 
able water, marshes, closely strewn boulders, thick woods with 
trees of large diameter, steep slopes, steep broken ground and 
tree stumps of sufficient size to belly a tank. In regions 
exposed to tank attack, an adequate field of fire for antitank 
guns is essential. This may carry with it exposure to hostile 
view and artillery fire. In such case the holding by a strong 
outpost of a terrain feature which will screen the battle posi- 
tion from hostile ground observation, the multiplication of 
dummy emplacements and obstacles, the utilization of minor 
accidents of the ground, and other features offering conceal- 
ment render difficult the recognition of defensive dispositions. 

The exact location of a defensive position is greatly 
influenced by the suitability of the terrain for the development 
of infantry fire, particularly the flanking fire of machine guns. 
For this purpose, the main line of resistance is traced to 
include salients and re-entrants. Facility of communication 
within the position and the approaches from the rear increase 
the effectiveness of the defense, Absence of obstacles to the 
movement of reserves within the position is an important 

5. Field Fortifications. — While in the selection of a defen- 
sive position full advantage is taken of the natural defensive 
strength of the terrain, field fortifications increase this natural 


strength by the construction of works, such as trenches, ob- 
stacles, the laying of antitank mines, observation posts and 
routes of communication. It is the duty of every commander 
to fortify any position occupied by his troops, whether deliber- 
ately for defensive combat or only temporarily in connection 
with offensive combat, as when the attack is temporarily 
checked by enemy resistance, or when a halt is made in the 
advance for the purpose of reorganizing. While field forti- 
fications constitute an integral part of defensive combat, it 
is not the purpose of this text to cover that subject in detail, 
the student being referred to "FIELD FORTIFICATIONS", 
a publication of the Correspondence School, Marine Corps 
Schools (1942). 

6. Distribution of Troops.— As a rule the position is not 
defended by an occupation in uniform density along the entire 
front but rather by holding in strength the tactical localities 
which constitute the key points and by providing for the 
defense of the intervals between such points by fire and 
counterattack. The key points of a defensive system in the 
main are points that control the communications of the de- 
fense and terrain features affording extensive observation 
into the defensive position or over the foreground. Terrain 
features affording cover or concealment or good fields of fire 
to the front or flanks constitute minor tactical localities. 

Troops of the defense are disposed in depth varying 
with the tactical situation. The objects sought by distribu- 
tion in depth are to — 

(1) Provide for security and gain time for man- 
ning the defenses of the battle position. 

(2) Screen the battle position and keep the enemy 
in doubt as to its location. 

(3) Facilitate resistance to the flanks and rear as 
well as to the front. 

(4) Avoid offering the enemy a vulnerable con- 
centrated target. 

(5) Provide suitable positions in readiness for 

For the accomplishment of these objects, the general 
distribution of infantry units comprises — 
A security echelon 
A combat echelon 

7. Security. — Security detachments protect the battle posi- 
tion from surprise ground attack and screen it from hostile 
observation and investigation. Fully organized outposts are 
established by regiments and larger units and are ordinarily 
located beyond the range of infantry weapons. Combat out- 
posts are established by rifle companies and battalions when 


regimental or divisional outposts are not established. Combat 
outposts comprise outguards of varying size depending on 
their location and mission. When the security position lies 
within close range of the battle position, combat outposts are 
established by rifle companies of the combat echelon and 
usually consist of one or more squads posted as outguards 
under a commander designated by the company commander. 
Beyond the close-range zone, combat outposts as a rule com- 
prise one or more platoons usually selected from the battalion 
reserve, under a commander designated by the battalion com- 
mander. Fully organized outposts are usually essential when 
the battle position is located on a reverse slope or when attack 
by mechanized forces must be reckoned with and a strong 
natural obstacle does not lie in the immediate front. 

8. Battle Position. — The main line of resistance coordi- 
nates the fire action of all elements of the defense. It forms 
the forward limit of the battle position, beyond which no 
infantry element may be placed during the defense of the 
position. It forms the inner boundary of a zone in which the 
entire defensive fire power is concentrated for decisive action. 
It defines and coordinates the missions of the units of the 
combat echelon and their reserves; they must hold their 
position against attack, and use their reserves to retake by 
counterattack any portion of the position which may have 
been temporarily lost. 

All defensive preparations are related to the defense 
of the main line of resistance. The basis of the defense is 
constituted by the fortified supporting points of the main 
position of resistance forming closed works organized for 
all-around defense. A defensive system based on holding 
successive lines results in dispersion of force and is applicable 
only to the purposes of delaying action. 

Infantry units in the battle position are generally de- 
ployed in two echelons; a holding garrison designed for the 
immediate defense of a portion of the position ; and a reserve. 
The entire strength of smaller units may be devoted to holding 
missions. A substantial portion of the larger infantry units 
is usually held in mobile reserve. 

The holding garrisons consist of a series of small 
groups, usually built up around automatic weapons. They form 
mutually supporting closed works capable of all-around de- 
fense. Depending on the nature of the terrain, the rifle 
company or battalion is the largest infantry unit defending 
a closed defensive area. The unoccupied areas are defended 
by fire and counterattack. The distribution of holding groups 
depends on the tactical situation and the terrain. Normally 
they are distributed laterally and in depth over the battalion 
or company area in such manner that the fires of each cross 
the front or flank of adjacent or advanced elements. 

Regimental reserves are primarily intended for counter- 
attack of penetrating elements and flank defense of the regi- 
mental sector. They are held mobile in defiladed areas. They 
are prepared to move to departure positions for counterattack 
in case of penetration of the combat echelon or to flank lines 
of resistance in case of penetration of an adjacent regimental 
sector. Approaches to prospective departure positions and 
flank lines of resistance are reconnoitered as well as the ter- 
rain between departure positions and the combat echelon. 
Units on exposed flanks take special care to dispose reserves 
so as to meet envelopments. The size of units holding out 
forces for counterattack missions is influenced by the nature 
of the terrain and the extent of the defensive area assigned 
to the unit. On extremely flat terrain, lacking in cover, units 
smaller than a regiment will not usually retain a mobile 
reserve. On open terrain, with some cover, a battalion is 
ordinarily the smallest unit holding out a counterattacking 
element. Units holding exceptionally large sectors have 
greater need of a mobile reserve than those receiving a 
normal assignment. In close terrain a company or even a 
platoon may hold out a counterattacking echelon, especially 
when the unit is required to defend a relatively extensive area. 

9. Depths and Frontages. — The depth of regimental sec- 
tors is usually 1,500 to 2,000 yards, depending on the terrain ; 
that of a battalion area varies from 700 to 1,200 yards. The 
depth of company areas varies from 400 to 600 yards. Com- 
pany and battalion areas should preferably include a mask 
behind which mortars and weapons assigned to antiaircraft 
missions can operate to advantage. The depth of platoon 
areas does not exceed 200 yards. 









The frontage which a unit can adequately defend de- 
pends upon many factors, including its strength, the terrain, 
density of supporting fires, and the character of the opposing 

General limits for infantry units operating at war 
strength as part of an infantry division and with flanks pro- 
tected by other troops are indicated as follows: 

Unit Frontages in Yards 

Platoon 200-400 . 

Company 400-600 

Battalion 800-1,500 

Regiment 2,000-3,000 

Relatively narrow frontages are assigned on those parts 
of a position which permit of the covered approach of attack- 
ing forces to within close range of the position. Wide front- 
ages are permissible where the hostile approach is exposed 
to observation and fire over a long distance. Obstacles along 
the front of the main line of resistance permit increase of 
frontage. Vital tactical localities are usually strongly held. 
At times, in order to effect economy of force, extremely wide 
fronts may be assigned to units in localities where a loss of 
ground will not affect the integrity of the defense as a whole. 
The mission of such units should be in keeping with their 
capabilities. The assignment of wide frontage to a unit de- 
creases the depth over which its holding garrisons are de- 

10. Boundaries. — Boundaries in the defense usually fall be- 
tween critical localities so as not to divide responsibility for 
their defense or that of the principal avenues of approach. 
Sector boundaries usually extend to the front to the effective 
range of weapons with which the unit is equipped. 

11. Observation. — During periods of active operations, all 
units from the squad to the regiment post one or more ob- 
servers so as to hold the defensive area and its approaches 
under constant daylight observation. Companies and larger 
units establish regularly organized observation posts. In 
front-line platoons covered by outguards, squad observers 
may be dispensed with and the observation service carried 
out by reliefs of platoon observers. 

12. Defensive fires. — The skeleton of the main line of resist- 
ance is constituted by machine guns and antitank weapons. 

Close defense of the position is largely based upon re- 
ciprocal flanking action of machine guns. The direction of 
fire of flanking defenses often permits their concealment from 
direct frontal observation of the enemy and their protection 
from frontal fire. They, therefore, have the advantage of 
being able to act with surprise effect in addition to that of 
protection and concealment. 


Frontal and flanking defenses mutually supplement one 
another and subject the attacker to convergent fires. Gaps 
in the fire bands of machine guns are covered by the fire of 
artillery, mortars, automatic rifles, and rifles. Riflemen and 
automatic riflemen furnish close protection for automatic 
weapons executing flanking fires and cover frontal sectors of 

Premature fires from positions in the main line of re- 
sistance disclose the main defensive dispositions to the anni- 
hilating fire of the hostile artillery, Machine guns charged 
with long-range missions fire from positions removed from the 
main line of resistance. They are often locattd on the posi- 
tion of the combat outposts. When the main line of resistance 
is on a reverse slope, some machine guns are initially moved 
to the crest for long-range missions. When sited to the rear 
of the main line of resistance, machine guns charged with 
long-range missions deliver overhead fires from masked posi- 
tions. Fires from the main line of resistance are withheld 
until the proximity of the hostile infantry compels its support- 
ing artillery to lift its fires. 

13. Antitank Defense. — The means at the disposal of nv 
fantry units are chiefly employed for the defense of the main 
line of resistance. Where combat outposts are established by 
infantry battalions, some of the battalion antitank weapons 
may be temporarily attached thereto for the purpose of deal- 
ing with hostile reconnaissance vehicles. Regimental outposts 
may be reinforced by antitank guns where sufficient means 
have been placed at the disposal of the regiment. 

Antitank defense includes active and passive means. 

(1) The active means of infantry antitank defense 
comprise antitank weapons and antitank mines. In a limited 
measure, other infantry weapons, especially those firing armor- 
piercing ammunition, are effective against certain types of 

(2) The passive means include — 

Antitank trenches and tank traps. 
Barricades (road blocks). 




Figure 2 


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f?t $348 


Figure 3 




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Figure 4 


The distribution of the means of antitank defense is 
based upon a s reconnaissance which, seeks to determine — 

(1) Zones of hostile advance which obstacles and 
the nature of the" terrain render impracticable or difficult for 
tank movement.'; . 

(2) Areas which may be effectively interdicted by 
the passive means of antitank defense. 

(3) Zones which must be covered by the fire of 
antitank weapons and mines and in which the advance of 
hostile tanks can be canalized. 

Battalion antitank weapons are usually emplaced in 
firing positions in close proximity to the main line of resist- 
ance. Regimental weapons are preferably emplaced near a 
mask in rear of the main line of resistance or held in positions 
of readiness from which they can move to alternative firing 
positions covering the main line of resistance or to positions 
for support of counterattack in the areas of the leading bat- 

14. Antiaircraft Defense—The combat echelon depends, in 
great measure, for its antiaircraft protection on the conceal- 
ment and cover afforded by natural features or intrenchments, 
on the dispersion of its elements, and on the antiaircraft 
fires of the automatic weapons of supports and reserves. 

Weapons are specifically assigned antiaircraft missions 
and occupy positions I covering them against ground fires. 
Fire distribution is prearranged. ,:. . , 

Conditions under which antiaircraft fires are opened 
are regulated by specific instructions. They are withheld in 
cases where the opening of fire would disclose defensive dis- 
positions, particularly in the close vicinity of the main line of 
resistance. Troops whose positions are known to have been 
located by the enemy fire on all low-flying hostile planes when 

Where weapons are assigned both ground and antiair- 
craft missions, the ground mission is primary. They do not 
allow themselyel to be dj Yetted frbm the ground mission by 
airplane attaefc^-.v^ '. . ^'" v ^'^" r> ^-^ , :: - .., - r > : . 

15. Organization of Grourid.-»Organization of the ground 
facilitates communication and;; ^ control, provides protection 
from hostile fire, and increases the effectiveness of the fire 
of the defender. Ground is so organized as not to disclose 
dispositions. Combat emplacements must be concealed or 
camouflaged. The development of the necessarily visible 
elements of a defensive system, especially the communication 
trenches, should not betray the real defensive organization. 
Communication trenches are. provided only^ over exposed 
stretches and are not to be dug near combat emplacements. 
Dummy emplacements and false obstacles are among the 
most important elements of ground organization and should 


be constructed simultaneously with the development of a 
position, in accordance with a comprehensive plan. 

The effects of fire are greatly increased by artificial 
obstacles and accessory defenses placed so as to delay the 
advance of the enemy at points where the defender's fire is 
most effective. In general, the location of wire entanglements 
is coordinated with the fire of machine guns and antitank 
obstacles with the fire of antitank weapons. The obstacle, 
must not, however, disclose the location of the main line of 

Multiplication of obstacles, including wire in front of 
the outpost, adoption of discontinuous and irregular trace, 
concealment or camouflage of wire near the main line of 
resistance {location in high vegetation or stream beds, etc., 
covering wire fence with vegetation, use of low wire or thin 
bands simulating wire fences) are among the means relied 
upon to prevent obstacles from disclosing dispositions. 

Antitank mines are more readily concealed than wire; 
their location in front of the wire assists in preventing hostile 
tanks from opening gaps therein. 


16. Reconnaissance of Commanders. — Following the receipt 
of instructions from higher authority for the defense, the 
commanders of infantry units make a terrain reconnaissance, 
determine their plan of defense, and issue their orders. The 
general location of the defensive position fixed by higher 
commanders determines the area to be covered by their recon- 
naissance. The scope of reconnaissance varies with the size of 
the unit, and in the several echelons of command bears 
specifically on the mission assigned to the unit. 

17. Orders. — Based on the results of his reconnaissance the 
commander determines — 

(1) Data on enemy and location of friendly troops. 

(2) Course of the main line of resistance. 

(3) Strength and location of security detach- 

(4) Distribution and missions of rifle units and 
supporting weapons ; defensive areas and sectors ; boundaries ; 
reserve locations. 

(5) Intrenchments, obstacles, and other field works 
to be constructed. 

(6) Location of observation and command posts. 
Action may be initiated by fragmentary orders if com- 
bat appears imminent; complete orders are issued when time 

In addition to the designation of a main line of resist- 
ance, the mission of companies of the combat echelon is 


usually given by the assignment of an area for defense. At 
times the locality in which the unit is to concentrate its main 
defensive effort may be specified. 

18. Plans. — The essential elements of defense plans include 
a fire plan, plans for counterattack, and a plan of ground 

(1) Fire plan. — The fire plan combines into one 
coordinated system the action of all weapons at the com- 
mander's disposal. The basic feature of the fire plan is the 
provision for establishing a dense band of fire in front of 
the main line of resistance in which the fires of all supporting 
weapons of the unit are combined with those of the combat 
echelon and the artillery; and for bringing the enemy under 
destructive fires at the earliest practicable moment in his 
approach to the position. 

(2) Counterattack plans. — The prompt action re- 
quisite for successful counterattack can generally be assured 
only by preliminary planning. Counterattack plans are 
arranged to meet various situations. Details are usually 
prepared by the reserve commander. Counterattack plans 
cover the units to be employed, direction and objective, depar- 
ture positions, movement thereto from the initial position of 
the reserve, supporting fires, and method of coordination of 
the counterattack under various assumptions as to hostile 
penetration of the main line of resistance. Counterattacks 
are directed against objectives outside the defense area of a 
unit only on orders of the higher commander. 

(3) Ground organization plan. — The plan of ground 
organization, in addition to covering the localities to be organ- 
ized, provides for camouflage and dummy emplacements and 
indicates priority in the execution of the various works. 
Organization of the position is planned so that at any moment 
the troops are able to profit from the work already done. 

When a short period of time is available for preparation 
for defensive combat, observation and local security are first 
assured. The essential elements of the fire system are then 
established. Weapons are sited and camouflaged, ranges are 
determined, and the necessary clearance of the field of fire 
carried out. The defensive works consist in the main of con- 
cealed emplacements for crew-served weapons, deep narrow 
pits (fox holes) (fig. 6) and crawl trenches for riflemen, obser- 
vation and command posts and aid stations, and concealed or 
camouflaged obstacles. The construction of dummy emplace- 
ments and obstacles ordinarily progresses concurrently with 
the construction of active works. 

A more strongly fortified defensive system may be 
developed if contact with the enemy continues. Communica- 
tion trenches, overhead cover, and additional obstacles, includ- 
ing extensive wire entanglements, antitank mine fields, and 
antitank traps are developed progressively. 



19. Entry into Defensive Combat.— Entry into defensive 
combat may proceed directly from the approach, from an 
assembly position, or from any phase of combat. When time 
permits, deployment of troops is preceded by thorough recon- 
naissance and the issuance of complete orders. If comjpat 
appears imminent, the troops are moved into position quickly, 
and necessary modification of dispositions is made when 
opportunity permits. 

20. Dispositions on Battle Positions. — A rifle unit assigned 
to the defense of a section of the battle position is distributed 
in groups holding selected localities with a view to most 
effective defense of the area. 

Heavy machine guns are distributed throughout the 
position. At least half of them are sited for close defense of 
the main line of resistance; they are usually located from 
50 to 200 yards in rear thereof. 

Light antitank weapons are sited for close-range de- 
fense of the main line of resistance. When available in 
sufficient numbers, they preferably cover mutually overlapping 
oblique fields of fire from emplacements masked from frontal 
observation. They may be assigned supplementary positions 
in the outpost zone. 

Antitank guns are so located as to bring fire on their 
targets from the moment they come within effective range. 
They may be assigned positions in readiness near the regi- 
mental reserve or occupy firing and cover positions behind 
the first mask in rear of the main line of resistance. 

The 81mm mortars are located close enough to the 
front to have good observation of their targets, and in any 
case not more than 800 yards in rear of the main line of 
resistance. They are preferably located in rear of the first 
mask behind the main line of resistance. 

As a rule, weapon and ammunition carriers do not 
remain in the forward part of the position. Regimental 
reserves keep their tactical transportation as close at hand 
as the terrain permits. 

21. Outpost Dispositions. — The occupation of the battle 
position is ordinarily covered by a completely organized out- 
post. Depending on the situation, the outpost may be with- 
drawn on orders of higher commanders. In the latter case, the 
security mission is carried out by combat outposts sent out by 
companies or battalions of the combat echelon. 

The outpost is usually strong in machine guns and 
provided with antitank weapons. Platoon or company groups 
(supports) usually occupy those localities which mask hostile 
fields of view into the dispositions of the combat echelon and 
which in hostile possession would impair the defense of the 


battle position. Groups will usually be widely separated. So 
far as practicable, they control the intervals by provision for 
the development of a powerful volume of flanking fire from 
automatic weapons. 

The outpost sends forward outguards for observation 
and local security and patrols the foreground of the position. 

22. Construction of Defense. — In general, the infantry is 
responsible for planning and constructing its own defenses 
including obstacles. Material and technical assistance is fur- 
nished by the engineers when necessary. As far as possible, 
working parties for special tasks are formed of complete 
tactical units. Camouflage is indispensable in all ground 
organization. It must be undertaken before the commence- 
ment of other work and must be kept in harmony with the 
nearby terrain. 

23. Night Dispositions. — It is usually necessary to make 
certain adjustments to meet the conditions of reduced visi- 
bility. Machine guns and mortars are laid to deliver prear- 
ranged final protective fires. Preparations are made for 
illuminating the foreground and a special schedule of night 
signals is prearranged. It will frequently be necessary to hold 
the front lines in greater density by establishing additional 
combat elements in intervals which are not adequately covered 
by final protective fires. Rearrangement of security elements 
and increase in their density may be required. Where practi- 
cable, outguards take positions affording observation of the 
skyline or establish listening posts. 

24. Defense in Fog or Smoke. — Fog or smoke creates condi- 
tions similar to those prevailing at night. However, their 
duration is uncertain, and the defense must determine in each 
case whether and to what extent night dispositions are to be 


25. Outpost.— Higher authority defines the general conduct 
of the outpost in case of hostile attack. Unless otherwise 
directed by higher commanders, outposts hold their position. 
The combat action of an outpost is subject to the general 
procedure governing the action of a defensive force deployed 
on a wide front. 

So far as is consistent with the preservation of its 
fighting power, the outpost conducts itself in such a way as 
to deceive the enemy as to the nature of the resistance con- 
fronting him and the location and dispositions of the battle 
position. The volume of fire of its automatic weapons enables 
the outpost to simulate the effect of heavily held lines. By 
the use of advanced posts in connection with supporting points 
of the outpost line of resistance, the enemy may be deceived 


as to the defensive dispositions and misled into a faulty 
deployment. It will also generally be of advantage to the 
defense if the outpost line does not closely parallel the main 
line of resistance. 

The outpost carries out its information mission through 
observation posts, outguards, and reconnaissance detachments 
and patrols. Reconnaissance elements maintain contact with 
hostile forces and hold their movements under surveillance 
from commanding terrain in the foreground of the outpost. 
If the enemy has established close contact with the outpost 
line, it will frequently be necessary to resort to reconnaissance 
in force or raids to secure needed information as to his dis- 

26. Defensive Battle.— If the assembly for attack of the 
hostile infantry is discovered, the fire of the mass of the artil- 
lery and attacks by combat aviation are directed on the known 
or suspected assembly areas. Where these areas are within 
the range of the infantry mortars, these weapons reinforce 
the fire of the artillery. If the enemy debouches from his 
assembly areas at long range, a portion of the machine guns 
open fire from emplacements removed from the close vicinity 
of the main line of resistance. Preferred targets for mortars 
are covered routes of approach, areas defiladed from artillery 
and machine guns, and hostile machine guns in masked posi- 
tions. Machine guns assigned to long-range missions fire with 
preference on hostile, unarmored vehicles and on infantry 
groups and machine guns exposing themselves to view within 
effective range. 

Machine guns covering the main line of resistance and 
rifle company weapons open fire when the enemy arrives 
within ranges which compel him to lift the fire of his artillery 
to rearward areas. If the enemy succeeds in effecting a close 
approach to the main line of resistance, all close-in prearranged 
fires are released. Forward machine guns cover arcs of fire 
limited by their final protective lines, rear machine guns fire 
overhead fires, and mortars and artillery lay down prear- 
ranged final protective fires or barrages, in accordance with 
the general defensive fire plan. These fires may be released 
on pyrotechnic signals sent up by front-line company com- 
manders, on telephonic notice, or on orders of higher com- 
manders. They can be delivered under any conditions of 
visibility. If made on call from the front line, they are 
delivered only in the sector where the call is made and not 
along the entire line. If the enemy assaults, he is met with 
rifle fire, grenades, and counterassault. 

When tanks lead the hostile attack, the long-range 
antitank guns, usually sited in positions to the rear of the 
main line of resistance, open fire as soon as their targets 
arrive within effective range. The battalion antitank weapons, 
sited in or near the main line of resistance, withhold their 


fire until the hostile tanks arrive within close range of the 
main line of resistance. Against heavily armored tanks, 
their fire is principally directed against the track assemblies. 
It is coordinated with other close-in defensive fires. Riflemen, 
automatic riflemen, and supporting weapons crews take cover 
against attack of tanks but open fire with armor-piercing 
ammunition against lightly armored vehicles. Certain rifle 
groups may be designated to attack track assemblies with 
prepared high explosives. Other riflemen and automatic 
riflemen in the main line of resistance remain concealed until 
the appearance at close range of the hostile infantry. 

If the enemy succeeds in entering the position, the 
defender seeks to strengthen and hold the flanks of the gap 
and counterattack the penetrating elements from the flank 
rather than attempt to close the gap by throwing troops 
across the head of the salient. 


27. General. — The general procedure of defensive combat 
applies to defense of a fortified position. Features of the 
defense which in open warfare can only be covered by general 
instructions are intensively organized in a position warfare. 

28. Characteristics.— The chief characteristics of the defense 
of a fortified position are — 

(1) Intensified development of defensive works, 
affording increased protection against fire and the weather and 
rendering the progress of an attacker more difficult. 

(2) Large amount of artillery, ammunition and 
materiel which the time available permits the opposing forces 
to accumulate. 

(3) Intensive organization of observation and 
signal communication. This, together with the large amount 
of ammunition available and increased accuracy of artillery 
and infantry heavy weapons, made possible by careful adjust- 
ment of fire, permits the defender to place his fires to best 
advantage and maneuver them more readily than in open 
situations. Fires are adjusted closer to the organizations 
they cover, and the fire plan is perfected and verified so that 
no gap can exist. Artillery fires are combined more closely 
with those of the infantry. 

(4) Intensive organization of the service of infor- 

(5) Detailed organization of all defensive action. 

29. Effectives.— As defensive organization is perfected, the 
number of effectives on a position may be reduced or the 
frontages of units increased without impairing the effective- 
ness of the defense. Minimum forces may be left in sectors 
where an attack is not threatened, provided information agen- 
cies continue their activity and detailed arrangements are 
made in every echelon of command for reinforcement. 


30. Distribution of Troops. — Higher authority determines 
the position on which the principal resistance is to be offered 
in case of a hostile attack in force. Every effort is made to 
conceal its location from the enemy. It is not strongly held 
until shortly before the start of the battle. 

It is usually desirable in position warfare to hold the 
outpost position against local attacks. In such case, the out- 
post will often be composed of complete battalions reinforced 
by antitank units and supported by artillery, which organize 
close-in defensive fires generally similar to those of a battalion 
defending the main line of resistance of a battle position. An 
outpost battalion may be assigned a frontage of from 2,000 
to 2,500 yards under these conditions. 

31. Location of Defenses. — The defense is based upon the 
foreknowledge that all deep, conspicuous trenches will be 
located by the enemy and subjected to the hostile preparatory 
bombardment. Conspicuous fire trenches on the main line of 
resistance are avoided. 

Deep trenches are provided to serve as avenues of com- 
munication, for protection in quiet periods, and shelter against 
weather. They are none the less important. Without them 
the fighting capacity of the troops falls off rapidly and the 
service of supply becomes difficult. 

32. Dugouts and Shelters. — Dugouts and concrete shelters 
are the only forms of protection against fire which are of 
lasting value. They constitute an essential means of con- 
serving the fighting capacity of the troops. Efforts should 
be made to accommodate all reserves in shellproof shelters. 
Dugouts or groups of dugouts should enable troops to be 
sheltered by complete units to facilitate command and supply. 
Deep dugouts in the front part of a position do not permit 
the prompt egress of troops and in case of an attack may 
become mere man traps. Concrete shelters should be con- 
structed in the advanced portion of a position whenever possi- 
ble. They form the skeleton of the main line of resistance of 
provisional rearward positions. 

33. Readiness for Action.— Special forms of increased readi- 
ness for action are provided in case indications of a hostile 
attack are observed. The following measures are taken: 

(1) Outpost and combat troops occupy their com- 
bat emplacements and reserves are disposed in readiness to 

(2) Men temporarily detached or engaged in 
special tasks report to their units. 

(3) Work which requires working parties to leave 
the vicinity of their combat posts ceases. 

(4) Communications are tested. 


(5) Patrolling becomes more active; frequent 
raids will be prescribed; observation is redoubled. 

34. Maintenance of Contact. — Constant vigilance must be 
exercised to maintain contact, since the enemy may effect a 
rapid withdrawal, leaving only a screen in place. In^ addition 
to vigilant patrolling, small raids to obtain information as to 
the continued presence of the enemy are made whenever 
information from any source indicates a withdrawal. 


35. General. — A withdrawal may be effected to extricate the 
defense from engagement with hostile forces or with a view 
to transferring the main defensive effort to a rearward posi- 
tion. In either case a covering force is detailed to protect 
the withdrawal. In the first case the covering force may be 
eventually relieved by a rear guard; in the second case by an 

The covering force is placed in position in rear of ele- 
ments in contact with the enemy or on the flank of the line 
of withdrawal. Elements in contact with the enemy withdraw 
straight to the rear under the protection of the covering 
force and of small detachments which they leave in position. 
These detachments withdraw in turn past the covering force 
after their units have broken contact. The covering force 
delays the enemy and permits the uninterrupted retrograde 
movement of the main body until relieved by another security 

A withdrawal by daylight involves such heavy losses 
and so great a degree of disorganization that as a rule it is 
preferable to hold out at any cost until night and effect the 
withdrawal under cover of darkness. 

Any order for withdrawal from an uncertain source 
must be disregarded. Orders for withdrawal are especially 
suspicious when passed along a line of skirmishers. 

The steps involved in withdrawal are, in general — 

(1) Selection of an assembly position where the 
several units will assemble when withdrawn, or of a defensive 
line on which resistance will be renewed. 

(2) Selection of a covering position to be occupied 
by reserves. 

(3) Designation of a covering force and its move- 
ment to the covering position. 

(4) Withdrawal of transportation and evacuation 
of such stores as can be removed and destruction of unremov- 
able stores. 

(5) Withdrawal of reserves to local covering posi- 

(6) Withdrawal of the combat echelon. 


A general covering force protects the withdrawal; in 
addition subordinate commanders employ reserves as local 
covering forces to assist in extricating their units in daylight 
withdrawals. Observation and a clear field of fire to front and 
flanks at the longer ranges and covered terrain in rear, favora- 
ble to withdrawal, are desirable characteristics of covering 
positions. Local covering forces are formed from available 
reserves with suitable attachments of machine gun, mortar, 
and gun units. 

36. Night Withdrawal. — Reconnaissance. — Subordinate in- 
fantry units initiate daylight reconnaissance of routes of with- 
drawal and assembly positions as soon as informed of a 
contemplated withdrawal. Reconnaissance groups are limited 
in size. They include men who are later used as guides. 

Assembly areas should be easy to recognize, accessible 
by clearly defined routes, and far enough to the rear for 
reorganization to take place without hostile interference. 

Screening of withdrawal. — The movement is screened 
by small groups left in immediate contact with the enemy 
supported by slightly larger groups. The screening force on 
the front of a battalion does not exceed the equivalent of a 
rifle company, reinforced by machine guns, mortars, and 
antitank weapons. The elements in immediate contact with 
the enemy will rarely exceed the equivalent of two rifle pla- 
toons on the front of a battalion. 

A commander for the screening elements in each bat- 
talion sector is usually designated by name and provided with 
personnel and equipment for command, communication, and 
control. He assumes command at a specified time. 

If an outpost is in position, it constitutes the screen; 
otherwise the withdrawal is screened by elements taken from 
the combat echelon. The foremost groups cover the principal 
routes of approach to the position. Groups in rear are located 
along the more dangerous avenues of advance within the posi- 
tion. Readjustment of front-line elements must not be exten- 
sive and should be along simple lines. Each platoon may leave 
a squad in place. Machine guns with the screening elements 
are usually single guns left in positions occupied during day- 

The troops left in contact with the enemy simulate 
the normal activity of fully occupied positions. They send 
up rockets and flares, execute fires from different localities, 
and patrol actively in an effort to give the impression of a 
heavily held position. 

Execution of withdrawal. — Administrative and supply 
elements and reserves usually withdraw soon after dark. 

Combat echelon elements, other than those left to 
screen the movement, withdraw at a designated hour. Small 


elements move to designated platoon assembly positions; pla- 
toons to company areas ; and companies then move to battalion 
assembly areas. 

Infantry heavy weapons must be moved by hand dur- 
ing early stages of the withdrawal. It is usually impracticable 
to attempt any extensive forward movement of the tactical 
transportation. Depending on their location, the weapons car- 
riers rejoin units at designated points, often in battalion 
assembly areas. The weapons carriers of gun units rejoin 
weapons as far forward as practicable. Some motor trans- 
portation may be left with the screening forces to expedite 
their withdrawal. 

All movement is without lights. Unusual noises are 

The screening force remains in position until a desig- 
nated hour. It should be withdrawn in time to come under 
the protection of the covering force before daylight. 

37. Daylight Withdrawal. — Orders and reconnaissance. — 
Little warning will be given, and reconnaissance will usually 
be coincident with the withdrawal. Withdrawal orders of 
infantry commanders are usually brief, fragmentary, and oral. 
They prescribe the general position to which withdrawal is 
to be made, zones of action, initial assembly areas, the time 
of starting the withdrawal, the sequence of withdrawal, and 
the method of covering the withdrawal. 

Execution of withdrawal. — Sequence in withdrawal is 
regulated by the general guide that the most rearward ele- 
ments and those least closely engaged are the first to be with- 
drawn. Administrative and supply establishments and trains 
move first. The general covering force occupies the position 
designated by higher authority. 

Infantry reserves take rearward positions with the 
longest available field of fire or most effectively covered by an 
antitank obstacle, intermediate between the general covering 
position and the combat echelon, to protect the withdrawal of 
the troops engaged. Whenever practicable, they take position 
to the flank of withdrawing troops so as to have a clear field 
of fire against pursuing forces. 

The combat echelon withdraws so as to unmask the 
fire of covering troops as far as practicable. Units assemble 
and reorganize under the protection of the first cover position 
and form on the next succeeding cover position as ah echelon 
of the withdrawing force. 

The further movement in withdrawal to the assembly 
position takes place by successive echelons in accordance with 
the procedure of delaying action. 

The use of smoke and the execution of demolitions are 
generally regulated by higher authority but may be entrusted 
to infantry units to which the necessary technical personnel 
is attached. Smoke screens must cover extensive fronts. 


They may sometimes be established by firing hay, grain 
shocks, etc. Bridges are not destroyed except on order of 
higher authority, unless it is apparent that they are about to 
be captured. 

Antitank units not engaged take positions covering 
stream crossings, defiles, and other points of obligatory pas- 
sage for armored vehicles, and important points on routes of 


38. General. — The methods employed depend on the situa- 
tion and vary from the activity of small detachments making 
use of road blocks and demolitions to the defense of a position 
for a limited period. The enemy is forced to deploy at great 
distances and to prepare attacks on successive positions held 
by alternating echelons of the defensive forces. The defend- 
ing forces execute successive withdrawals and seek to avoid 
becoming closely engaged. The dangers inherent in a day- 
light withdrawal, however, especially when the hostile forces 
include strong mechanized elements, frequently induce the 
delaying force to remain in position, in whole or in part, until 
nightfall, even accepting a close engagement. 

39. Selection of Positicn.— Delaying positions should offer 
favorable observation to the front and flanks, long-range fields 
of fire, covered routes of withdrawal, and secure flanks. These 
requirements are usually best met by crest positions which 
afford distant observation and long-range fields of fire and 
mask the terrain in rear of the position. An effective obstacle 
may be of more importance than commanding terrain where 
a considerable delay must be effected on any single line or 
when tanks closely press the pursuit. Successive positions 
should be separated by sufficient distance to prevent hostile 
artillery from simultaneously taking two positions under fire 
from the same emplacements. Infantry units may however, 
have to occupy intermediate positions for mutual support in 
an echeloned withdrawal, especially in cases where the enemy 
closely presses his pursuit. In such case, it is often advantage- 
ous for each position to be within supporting range of the 
heavy weapons occupying the next. 

40. Distribution of Troops.— Infantry units cover wide 
frontages; under favorable conditions they may be approxi- 
mately double those permissible for a sustained defense. The 
increased frontages are held by employing a larger proportion 
of the troops in the forward part of the position, reducing the 
strength of reserves, increasing the intervals between occupied 

Weapons carriers are held in defiladed areas, as close 
as practicable to their weapons, prepared to move to the rear 
over reconnoitered routes. 


41. Fire Plan.— Infantry units prepare two general series 
of fires; long-range and close-in defensive fires. The former 
constitute the principal mission unless close protection mis- 
sions are contemplated. The long-range fires are executed by 
the mortars and heavy machine guns. They are assigned 
positions facilitating withdrawal by carrier. Each machine- 
gun section is usually assigned a wide sector for observed fire. 
The greater tactical mobility of light machine guns favors 
their use in close combat situations. The action of antitank 
guns is similar to their action in defense. Automatic riflemen 
and riflemen are used primarily for the protection of other 
weapons and the execution of reconnaissances. In close coun- 
try, riflemen form the principal elements of delaying action. 

42. Withdrawal.— General. — Withdrawals are preferably 
made by night. Anticipation of the movement enables it to 
be carried out under relatively favorable conditions. With- 
drawals are initiated under conditions fixed by higher com- 
manders. They may commence at a designated hour, when 
hostile forces reach a certain terrain line, or when adjacent 
units have effected a withdrawal. 

Reconnaissance. — Close touch with pursuing forces is 
maintained by aggressive patrolling. Defiladed routes must 
be held under constant surveillance. 


43. Characteristics. — Combat in wooded areas results in 
decreased effectiveness of all fire and of mechanized forces; 
increases the importance of close combat and surprise ; impedes 
the maintenance of direction, control, and communication; 
promotes concealment and effectiveness of ambushes; and 
increases chemical effect. Special training in this type of 
combat is necessary. 

Isolated small woods usually attract artillery fire ; how- 
ever, they provide some protection against tanks. Decision 
to occupy them depends on the probable hostile artillery effect 
or likelihood of attack by hostile mechanized elements. 

Large wooded areas favor the construction of strong, 
well-concealed defense areas, surrounded by artificial obstacles. 
Such wooded areas impede offensive operations and enable 
weak forces to make a stubborn resistance. 

Large woods in rear of a position are of value for 
concealing reserves and communication and in covering with- 

44. Location of Main Line of Resistance. — A wooded area 
may be defended by locating the main line of resistance in 
front of the woods, along the forward edge, within the woods, 
or in rear thereof. Tactical or terrain considerations are the 
determining factors. 


Usually the main line of resistance will be within the 
woods, with the forward edge of the woods held by security 
detachments. If the main line of resistance within the woods 
is oblique to the outpost position located outside the woods, 
it affords flanking fires and deceives the enemy. 

45. Fire Plan. — The defense of the main line of resistance 
within a wood is organized to surprise the attack with a dense 
system of close-in defensive fires. Roads, paths, and trails 
are enfiladed by rifle and machine-gun fires. Cleared spaces 
and the forward edges of concealed obstacles are swept with 
flanking fires. 

Lanes are cut for machine-gun fires along the front and 
flanks of organized areas. Thinning trees and undergrowth 
is better than a complete clearing. The lack of observation 
for the control of fires frequently limits effectiveness of artil- 
lery and of infantry mortars. Where there are no naturally 
cleared areas available as battery positions, they are prepared. 
The flat-trajectory of the field artillery guns requires more 
clearing than do the high-trajectory infantry mortars. Be- 
cause of their greater range and defensive echelonment in 
depth, the gun batteries are usually able to find suitable 
natural cleared firing positions further in rear of the battle 
position. Artillery usually covers the intersections of roads 
and trails, defiles through which the hostile attacking infantry 
will have to pass, and likely hostile assembly areas. The 
high-angle fire of infantry mortars permits the 81mm platoon 
to be sited in limited cleared areas, and its plunging fire is 
affected but little by the trees as the projectiles strike. The 
60mm mortars are usually attached to rifle platoons, where 
their fire can be directed by the platoon leader against enemy 
attacking dispositions as they are disclosed during the attack. 

Concealment of a few riflemen in trees often adds to 
the effectiveness of the defense. 

46. Organization of Defense.— -The lateral edges are strongly 
defended in order to prevent outflanking action. 

A small holding garrison may be located in rear of a 
shallow wood to enfilade enveloping attacks, to support counter- 
attacks, and prevent the enemy from debouching in case he 
penetrates the wood. 

Obstacles are erected to protect the main line of resist- 
ance, prevent the use of paths and trails, canalize the hostile 
advance into areas swept by the fire of concealed automatic 
weapons, and cause the attack to lose direction and impetus. 
Routes are reconnoitered and marked. 

47. Distribution of Troops.— Limited fields of view and fire 
require reduction of distances and intervals between groups 
and individuals with consequent initial diminution of the depth 
and frontages of units. The strength of effectives required 


to hold a wood may be reduced after it has been properly 

Areas held by front-line platoons are elongated and 
usually approach a linear formation. Local reserves, prepared 
for immediate counterattack, are disposed in smaller and 
more numerous groups than in open terrain. 

So far as practicable, the defense avoids the occupation 
of points easily identified on maps or which can be accurately 
located by hostile ground or air observation. 

When the defensive position is within the wood or in 
rear thereof, the forward edge is usually occupied by small 
detachments to observe and delay the enemy and screen the 
main line of resistance. 

48. Chemicals. — Chemicals are highly effective in woods. 
Areas which have been subjected to concentrations of highly 
persistent gas should be evacuated. 


49. General. — Defensive means are combined to take the 
attacking forces by surprise. Ambushes are prepared by 
constructing concealed obstacles along the most probable 
routes of hostile advance and siting fixed weapons to sweep 
them with fire. Outguards provide for the security of the 
command, preparing ambushes in advanced positions to break 
the attack before it reaches the defensive position or to ena- 
ble capture of hostile patrols. Local reserves are posted to 
recapture portions of the position which may be taken. Larger 
reserves must be able to form rapidly at designated assembly 
positions and proceed therefrom along previously reconnoitered 
routes to any part of the front where they may have to inter- 
vene. Large-scale counterattacks are usually postponed until 


50. Military Importance. — River lines are important military 
obstacles. Their protection against mechanized vehicles fre- 
quently determines the location of defensive or delaying posi- 
tions. The military importance of a river line depends upon 
the width, depth of water, current, stream bed, banks, and 
facilities available for crossing. 

51. Defense of Stream Lines.— The action of infantry occu- 
pying a defensive position a few thousand yards in rear of a 
stream or held in readiness with outposts on the river line 
is in accordance with general procedure of defensive combat. 

Infantry units defending near the river bank locate 
their principal holding garrisons opposite favorable crossing 
places and at points affording good observation over the 


valley. They are supported by local reserves held close in 
their rear prepared for immediate counterattack. 

Defensive fires are prepared covering routes of approach 
and favorable assembly places on the far bank, the stream 
itself, likely routes of hostile advance on the near bank, and 
those points on the near bank offering the best observation 
over the stream. The principal close-in defensive fires will 
usually be placed on the river when the latter is an important 

The more likely crossing places are covered by several 
weapons. In addition to normal defensive organization, the 
defense may dam the stream at selected points, destroy or 
mine fords and approaches thereto, and obstruct good land- 
ing places. Wire is erected on the banks of the river and 
obstacles placed in the water. Mines may TDe placed at land- 
ing points. The valley may be interdicted with gas if it is deep 
and narrow. 

Where the stream is an effective barrier to tanks, the 
best antitank defense is to prevent a crossing of the hostile 
infantry and to locate antitank weapons for fire upon hostile 
tanks which may attempt to cross or ferry. Antitank guns 
should seek long fields of fire up and down stream as well as 
on approaches thereto, and particularly should cover salients 
in the river line. Most of the antitank weapons are initially 
held in readiness under cover until the approach of the tanks. 
When hostile tanks are able to ford the stream or are amphibi- 
ous, weapons are emplaced to take them under fire during the 

Fundamentals of antiaircraft defense applicable to 
ordinary defensive situations generally apply. The defending 
forces at a river line are, however, disposed over a broader 
front and in greater depth. The greater part of the defending 
ground forces are held concentrated in mobile reserve. The 
important consideration in antiaircraft defense is the pro- 
tection of the reserve while concentrated and during move- 
ment to the area of employment. 


52. Location of Main Line of Resistance. — Houses on the 
edge of a building area will receive the most artillery fire 
initially. Hence the line of resistance usually is located in 
front of the village when houses offer relatively slight pro- 
tection against artillery fire and do not materially obstruct 
the advance of tanks. If houses are of extremely solid con- 
struction, defense along the forward edge may be advisable in 
early stages of campaign, when systematic destructive fires 
by masses of heavy artillery are not to be expected. Location 
of the main line of resistance in the interior of the village lim- 
its fire action of the defender except at close range and allows 


the enemy to gain a foothold within the village ; it is, however, 
frequently advisable when the hostile artillery has excellent 
observation on the edge of the village or if the fires of strong 
hostile artillery are to be expected. 

53. Organization for Defense. — Each combat unit is assigned 
to the defense of groups of adjacent houses. Main streets 
are unsuitable boundaries, and units should be definitely 
charged with their defense; each subordinate unit should cover 
an entrance to the village or a favorable route of hostile 
advance; each combat unit should hold out a reserve for 
immediate counterattack. 

In the interior of the village solidly built houses are 
organized to command the streets leading toward the center 
of the village. Trenches and barricades may be located at 
street intersections and open squares to exploit the field of 

Reentrants of edges of the village offer particularly 
favorable emplacements for machine guns giving reciprocal 
support to adjacent elements. Other machine guns are sited 
in rear (from defense viewpoint) of the village to fire along 
the lateral edges and prevent their envelopment. A redoubt 
is located at the rear exit to insure all-round defense. 

Facilities for several tiers of fire are fully utilized, 
particularly in the interior defenses. Loopholes are cut in 
the walls of the houses, and firing emplacements are pro- 
tected by sandbags inside the houses. If time permits, cellars 
are strengthened so as to resist artillery bombardments and 
additional exits from them are cut. Measures are taken for 
protection against gas. Protected communications are estab- 
lished to facilitate the exercise of command, walls of adjacent 
houses being pierced to make passageways when necessary. 
Wire is erected in front of the village and in open portions of 
the interior. Entrances of the village are barricaded and 
antitank mines are placed. A generous supply of tools, sand- 
bags, and munitions, including grenades, is provided. 


54. Purpose. — In general, artillery fire in the defense is 
designed to delay the attacker and inflict casualties upon 
him as he approaches the defensive position; to prevent or 
dislocate a coordinated attack ; to assist the infantry in repel- 
ling any attack which the enemy succeeds in launching; and 
to place fires on his reserves and supporting troops. 

55. Arrangements for Support. — The method of arranging 
artillery support of infantry in the defense is similar to that 
in offensive situations ; the infantry and artillery commanders 
confer and agree upon areas to be covered, the duration and 
priority of fires, and the signals calling for them. To take 


advantage of its flexibility of fire, the artillery is kept under 
centralized control to a greater degree than in the attack. 

56. Sequence of Arranging Fires. — Defensive fires are usu- 
ally prepared in the following sequence: 

(1) Standing barrages for the close defense of the 
main line of resistance. 

(2) Defensive concentrations covering avenues of 
approach to the main line of resistance. 

(3) Other defensive fires beyond the main line of 

(4) Counterpreparation fires. 

(5) Fires within the battle position to limit hostile 
penetration or envelopment. 

(6) Fires in support of counterattacks. 

(7) Fires covering a possible withdrawal. 

57. Coordination.— Artillery fire can adequately cover only 
a small portion of the front of a supported unit at one time, 
unless the organic artillery has been strongly reinforced. In 
principle, the artillery prepares close-in defensive fires to 
cover portions of the terrain where infantry flat-trajectory 
fire is least effective. Plans for defensive fires also provide 
for concentrations of artillery fire on critical portions of the 
front. The normal barrage for the close defense of the main 
line of resistance requires one battery for each 200 yards 
covered; the duration of fire is from 3 to 5 minutes, renewed 
in case of necessity. The artillery executes observed fire 
against any suitable targets seen. 

58. General. — Close contact between the infantry and the 
artillery makes possible timely transmission of requests for 
fire and gives the artillery the intimate knowledge of the 
infantry situation which it requires for effective performance 
of its mission. Maintenance of communication (except radio) 
with the supported unit is an artillery responsibility. 

59. Command Liaison. — The artillery commander maintains 
liaison with the commander of the supported infantry unit 
by personal contact whenever practicable, otherwise through 
a staff representative. Infantry and artillery command posts 
are located in close proximity to one another. When this is 
impracticable, wire connection is made. Frequent visits by 
artillery commanders and staff officers to infantry command 
posts, before and during combat, are essential. 

60. Liaison with Infantry Battalions. — Liaison section. — An 
artillery liaison officer with a small detachment is sent to 
front-line infantry battalions (exceptionally to companies) as 
soon as the essential elements of the artillery plan are known. 
The liaison officer is the artillery adviser of the infantry bat- 
talion commander and the representative of the artillery com- 


mander ; he may also be a forward observer for the adjustment 
of artillery fire. 

Information furnished infantry commander. — The liai- 
son officer furnishes the infantry commander information 
concerning where, when, and in what volume the artillery can 
fire. He identifies prearranged fires on the ground. During 
the action he furnishes information concerning the possibility 
of obtaining additional fire. 

Information furnished artillery commander. — The lia- 
ison officer keeps the artillery commander informed of the 
location of the forward elements of the unit supported, its 
tactical situation, the desires of the supported, troops for 
artillery fire, the effect of friendly and hostile artillery fire, 
prospective battery positions, observation posts, and routes 
of advance. 

Location of liaison officer. — The liaison officer maintains 
close contact with the infantry commander; both should be 
able to observe the action of the infantry. Wire from the 
artillery battalion is laid to the artillery liaison officer, who 
during combat is with the infantry battalion commander. 
Artillery communications should not be used for infantry 
traffic except in an emergency. The infantry battalion com- 
mander may communicate with his regimental commander 
through the artillery battalion switchboard, which has a wire 
line, in most situations, direct to the infantry regimental 
command post. 

61. Requests for Artillery Fire. — The following table indi- 
cates how requests are made for artillery fire When an 
entire artillery battalion or more than one battalion is assigned 
to the support of a single infantry battalion, the commander 
of the infantry battalion may be authorized to prearrange 
fires ; request that schedule fires be advanced or delayed ; and 
initiate the execution of a new series of prearranged fires. 


Nature of request 

By whom made 

To whom made 

Prearrangement of fires 

Infantry regimental 
commander gen- 

Commander of artil- 
lery in direct sup- 

Call for execution of 
prearranged fires. 

Infantry battalion 
commander unless 
otherwise ordered. 

Artillery liaison offi- 

Signal for execution of 
prearranged fires. 

Infantry battalion 
commander usually. 
Company command- 
er in defense if spe- 
cifically authorized. 

To delay or advance the 
time of delivery of 
schedule fires. 

Infantry regimental 
commander; usually 
on request of a bat- 
talion commander. 

Commander of artil- 
lery in direct sup- 

Request for fire on areas 
not covered by prear- 
ranged fires. 

Infantry company 
commander; infan- 
try battalion com- 

Infantry battalion 
commander; artillery 
liaison officer. 

To initiate the execution 
of a new series of pre- 
arranged fires. 

Infantry regimental 

Commander of artil- 
lery in direct sup- 

Request by a battalion commander for fire on points 
outside the battalion zone of action are usually sent to the 
infantry regimental commander, who transmits them to the 
artillery only if the fire will not interfere with other units. 

62. Artillery Action on Requests.— In all infantry requests 
for fire during combat, the artillery commander notifies the 
infantry commander as soon as possible concerning the action 
to be taken. 

When the artillery is firing on a time schedule and all 
batteries are busy, compliance with a request by an infantry 
battalion commander for fire on a target of opportunity is 
usually effected by transferring fire from a target in the zone 
of the battalion making the request. The artillery com- 
mander will not transfer fire from without the zone of the bat- 
talion supported unless the infantry regimental commander 
approves, or previously has indicated that the unit making the 
request is to be given priority in artillery support (main 
effort). In requesting fire, therefore, infantry battalion com- 
manders should specify the old targets on which continuation 
of fire is essential. 

The commander of the direct support artillery may 
apply for assistance by general support artillery or other 
artillery units when his own resources are insufficient to 
comply with requests. Appreciable delay is usually involved 
when attempts are made to procure support from such 

63. Attached Artillery. — When artillery units are attached 
to infantry units, the same general procedure is followed 


except that the infantry commander makes the final decision 
as to where the artillery fires will be placed, after considering 
the recommendations of the artillery commander. 

64. Use of Signals.— To prevent misunderstandings the 
number of pyrotechnic signals pertaining to fire and their 
meanings should be held to the minimum. It will usually be 
necessary to reach an agreement with the artillery as to the 
locations from which signals are to be fired. 

65. Small and Close Targets. — In general, the artillery is 
not called upon to deal with small point targets that can be 
dealt with by infantry weapons. When strong resistance de- 
velops over a large area near the Infantry the point targets 
close to the Infantry are engaged by infantry supporting weap- 
ons, and the rest of the area is assigned to the artillery. 

66. Designation of Targets. — Importance. — Precise designa- 
tion of targets on which the Infantry desires artillery fire is of 
vital importance; inaccurate designation results in ineffective 
fire or requires the artillery to neglect other missions and 
neutralize an unnecessarily large area by a great expenditure 
of ammunition. 

Prearranged fires. — Designation of targets for pre- 
arranged fires is relatively simple because the infantry com- 
mander and artillery representative are in direct contact. 
Suitable maps, overlays, or sketches are ordinarily used with 
identification of visible targets (or reference points by which 
they can be located) on the ground. Without maps, all tar- 
gets must be pointed out in this manner. 

By small units during combat. — After the commander 
of a company or other small unit has located hostile resistance 
on which he requires fire, wording and transmission of the 
information to higher authority in such form as to avoid error 
require great care. Use of marked maps or photographs, 
overlays, or rough sketches is desirable. Whenever possible, 
the messenger should be able to identify the target (or refer- 
ence point) on the ground. 

Map coordinates (or an overlay) are used when practi- 
cable. The size of the target should be indicated, e.g., by giv- 
ing the central point and the extent of the front or diameter 
of the area. The designation should be supplemented by 
indicating the relation of the target to an unmistakable point 
on the terrain near the target (reference point) . 

Lacking maps, the company commander may indicate 
the target by giving its magnetic azimuth and estimated dis- 
tance from his position, when his position can be readily seen 
or accurately identified. (Example: Deployed Infantry on front 
of 200 yards ; center 500 yards from red brick house, azimuth 
54°.) He may give the distance and direction of the target 
from an easily recognizable reference point when the distance 
is small enough to permit a reasonably accurate estimate. 


(Example: Machine-gun nest 100 yards in diameter; center 
150 yards north of water tank.) A method frequently appli- 
cable is to give (usually on a sketch) the magnetic azimuth and 
estimated distance both to the target and to a distinct refer- 
ence point. Accurate results depend on accuracy of estimated 

Action of battalion commander. — Errors in target des- 
ignation by infantry units under fire are inevitable; in trans- 
mitting such requests, infantry battalion commanders and 
liaison officers use all possible means (observers, personal 
observation) to verify and complete the target designation. 
Indication of known points close to the target or reference to 
prearranged fires materially aids the artillery. 

Action of liaison officer. — The liaison officer uses the 
information furnished by the Infantry, supplemented by his 
own observation, to determine the location of the target with 
reference to a known point already plotted on the artillery 
firing chart. Since he is usually in a forward position, he will 
frequently be called upon to observe fire. 

67. Infantry Protecting Artillery. — Close-range protection 
of artillery is afforded mainly by troops deployed in its front. 
Special infantry supports may be detailed to protect artillery 
on an exposed flank or behind a lightly held front. These sup- 
ports receive general instructions from the Artillery but are 
responsible for the dispositions necessary to accomplish the 
assigned mission. 










68. The Rifle Squad, Composition and Armament. — The 

squad is a group of men organized primarily as a combat team. 
It consists of the following: 
1 Corporal (Squad Leader) 
8 Privates, including pri- 
vates first class. 

The senior private first class 
is the assistant squad leader. 
When the squad leader is absent, 
he is replaced by the second in 
command. If the second in com- 
mand is also absent, the next 
senior member of the squad acts 
as leader. 

The rifle squad in the Marine 
Corps is normally armed with: 
8 Rifles 
8 Bayonets 
1 Automatic Rifle 
1 Grenade Discharger* r.d. 33 49 

1 Grenade Launcher, Ml 

In addition to the above, when the tactical situation 
demands, men of the squad may be armed with hand grenades 
and may be required to carry extra grenades. 

The Squad may be increased to 13 men, in which case 
the Corporal becomes the Assistant Squad Leader and a Ser- 
geant becomes Squad Leader. When this is done the arma- 
ment is as follows: 
11 Rifles. 
11 Bayonets. 
1 Automatic Rifle. 
1 Thompson Submachine Gun. 
1 Grenade Discharger*. 
1 Grenade Launcher. 
*To be issued until supply of serviceable rifle grenades is exhausted. 

69. Instructions to the Squad Leaders. — The squad will 
assume the defensive when the attack is stopped or upon 
orders of higher authority. The squad in the combat echelon 
is usually reinforced by an automatic-rifle team from the 
Platoon's BAR Squad. (See Sec. 3.) When assuming the 
defensive, the platoon leader will assign missions to each 
squad including the sector of fire. The instructions to the 
squad leaders cover the following: 


(1) Information relative to the enemy, and posi- 
tion and mission of adjacent squads and supporting weapons. 

(2) Decision of the platoon leader as to how he 
will use his platoon to carry out his mission, and the exact 
course of the main line of resistance in the platoon area. 

(3) Defense area and sector of fire for each squad. 
Ranges to prominent features in the fore- 

Arrangements for mutual support between 
adjacent squads. 

Clearing fields of fire. 

Intrenchments and obstacles. 


Conditions under which fire will be opened. 

(4) Ammunition supply. 

(5) Prearranged signals. 

70. Organization of the Squad Position.— When the attack- 
ing squad is unable to advance, the members immediately 
take a position where they can fire on the enemy or cover the 
ground to the front. If natural cover, such as ditches, gullies, 
or shell holes is not available, then they should dig individual 
pits, either skirmishers trenches or foxholes. The foxholes 
are rough holes deep enough to afford protection from rifle 
fire and shell fragments. In digging these foxholes, the 
entrenching tools should be used. However, if these are not 
available, then anything should be used to get the desired 
cover quickly, such as canteen cups, knives, meat cans and 
meat can covers. For various type foxholes see Figs. 5 to 13 


• . .,am 

RD 3349 


Circular foxhole, shown without cover to illustrate construction 

RD 3343 

Foxhole, with rifleman shown without camouflage to illustrate position 


:#:■;: ■>-- i /"'==->)- : V -■^..,:,v ;V :"/'> -^. 

•-- ■ ■■■■■ 




RO 3349 


Camouflaged foxhole (Head protruded to show location of hole) 


RO 3349 


Rectangular type foxhole 

(Shown without camouflage to illustrate construction) 

RO 3349 


Rifleman seated on fire step of rectangular foxhole 

(Shown without camouflage to illustrate construction) 



Two-man foxhole on forward slope of hill 


ac FIGURE 11 

Two-man foxhole reinforced by live timber to support weight of hostile 
tank (Shown without camouflage to illustrate construction) 



Men at rest in two-man foxhole. Reinforcing of live timber will support 

weight of attacking tank 

(Shown without camouflage to illustrate construction) 




Chevron type of slit-trench, ideal for squad leader 

While the members of the squad are in the foxholes, 
work should be started in the organization of the ground. 
This work will consist of improving the fields of fire, digging a 
shallow connecting trench between foxholes and camouflaging 
foxholes. Use should be made of natural cover and conceal- 


The skirmisher's trench is a shallow trench about 6 
feet long, 2^2 feet wide, and six inches deep, with the exca- 
vated soil thrown up as a parapet on that end of the longer 
axis which is towards the enemy. (Fig. 14.) The skirmisher's 

R. 0.1105-4 




' i 

^^w : 

Figure 14 

trench is usually dug when the ground is exceptionally hard, 
or when the digging unit is under aimed small arms fire. The 
foxhole gives the best all around protection to the individual 
rifleman, but the skirmisher's trench will be found a very 
usable adjunct. Skirmisher's trenches may be changed to 
foxholes by deepening the forward end and building up the 
front and rear with the spoil. Grass and leaves should be used 
in the proper place so that the outline of the trench will re- 
main, in texture and color, the same as the surrounding vegeta- 



[*" — I Squcd Leader 

r-~J Second In Command 

I 5 I Automatic Slflemon 

f~A~] BAR Team 

[~4~1 Rlflt Grenadier 
I [ Remainder Rifleman 
{ i Supplementary Position 

Squad in Defense 
Reenforced by BAR Tear 
Fig. 16. 


The squad should deploy roughly in the shape of a 
convex arc, though a regularity of pattern is to be avoided. 
Each weapon's field of fire should extend to the front up to the 
limit of its effective range, insofar as the terrain will permit, 
and over a sufficiently wide arc that the men serving the 
adjacent weapons on either flank can be protected. If it 
is on an extreme flank of the squad the weapon's field of 
fire should include the flank and part of the adjacent squad. 

The squad leader supervises his squad's position and, 
upon receiving the platoon leader's plan for a coordinated 
defense, may be compelled to change his original position, 
so as to have it included in the platoon defense plan. In his 
assignment of sectors of fire to each member of the squad, 
he seeks places that afford the best fields of fire, cover and 
concealment, in the priority given, consistent with the control. 
The squad's sector is divided into sub-sectors and each member 
of the squad who is to fire is assigned a firing position and 
sub-sector. The adjacent individual subsectors should over- 
lap to the extent that all the ground within the squad sector 
will be properly covered. The riflemen should not only cover 
his own subsector, but should be on the alert to cover adjacent 
subsectors and other targets of opportunity. 

The position of the automatic rifleman should be select- 
ed carefully so as to cover the maximum area possible. Posi- 
tions are made more effective when located on the flanks, sited 
at an angle to the front so as to give oblique fire. Portions of 
the front not covered by machine-gun fire can be covered by 
automatic fire. Dead spaces in the fire of automatic riflemen 
and riflemen are covered by hand grenades. 

Usually the automatic rifles with the squad cover the 
entire fire sector of the squad. They are so emplaced as to 
flank the front of adjacent squads. The riflemen usually 
occupy positions somewhat to the rear and flank of the auto- 
matic rifle emplacement and preferably about 30 yards from 

The squad leader will choose supplementary positions 
for the members of the squad, to protect a squad's position 
from the flanks and rear. Generally, the supplementary 
positions will be chosen by the platoon leader, but in the 
absence of such instructions, the squad leader himself will 
choose such position or positions. Supplementary positions 
will be occupied when immediate threat exists of enemy attack 
from flank or rear. 

As time and other duties permit, the squad leader will 
prepare a rough sketch of the squad sector of fire, showing 
prominent terrain features within the sector with the estimat- 
ed ranges thereto. Such a sketch insures coverage of all im- 
portant points and will be of great assistance as a handy refer- 
ence as the defense progresses. 


The squad seeks to make hostile airplane reconnais- 
sance ineffective by avoiding unnecessary movement and by 
concealment and camouflage. 

71. Conduct of the Defense. — Upon warning of an impend- 
ing attack the squad leader will get his men to their positions 
immediately and engage targets which appear in his assigned 
sector when they arrive within effective range. Until the 
enemy arrives within close range the squad avoids any move- 
ment that would disclose its dispositions. 

The riflemen of the squad cover areas dead to the fire 
of automatic weapons and thicken their fires within the effec- 
tive range of the rifles. 

The riflemen also protect from assault the automatic 
weapons, mortars and antitank guns which are in or close to 
the squad's area. 

Eject with grenades and bayonets any of the enemy 
who enter the squad's position. 

Frequently the enemy will bombard the position before 
he attempts to take it ; pressing his assault as soon as the bom- 
bardment ceases. The squad makes a determined stand. It 
never falls back except upon the definite order of the platoon, 
company, or higher commander. Any individuals who pass 
along such an order will state the name of the person who 
issued the order and the place to which the squad is to go. In 
general, the success of the defense depends upon each squad 
group defending to the utmost in place. The stubborn defense 
in place by front-line units breaks up enemy attack forma- 
tions, disrupts his planned fires and makes him vulnerable to 
counterattacks by higher units. 

72. Duties of Squad Leader. — In the defense, in addition to 
his normal command duties the squad leader sees to the feed- 
ing and supply of his men, enforces the rules of hygiene and 
sanitation, and requires that the weapons and equipment of 
the squad be maintained in serviceable condition. He checks 
the status of ammunition supply within the squad and keeps 
his immediate superior informed of the amount of ammuni- 
tion on hand. He should maintain a reserve of ammunition at 
his battle position at all times. When company or platoon 
local security groups are employed, he details a member of 
the squad to observe them. 

During combat. — While withstanding an enemy attack 
the squad leader maintains fire discipline and controls the fire 
of his squad. He fires only in emergency, or when he considers 
the firepower to be gained by his firing to outweigh the neces- 
sity for the close control of the fire of his squad. At all times 
contact with platoon headquarters is maintained. 

Any automatic weapons which may be under the squad 
leaders control will be of the greatest value in breaking up 
the enemy's attacks. Therefore, the squad leader will pay 


particular attention to their positions, and he will exert him- 
self and his men to the utmost to keep them in action. 

The squad leader takes advantage of the darkness, fog, 
smoke or lulls to improve the defensive dispositions of his 
squad, and to establish contact with the platoon leader and 
with adjacent units. Upon establishing contact with adjacent 
squads, he will arrange for mutual exchange of fires. 

Any casualty to the crew of a machine gun in an area 
near the squad which interferes with the operation of the 
gun will be replaced by a rifleman of the nearest squad. This 
is an important additional duty^ of the rifle squad leader, to 
keep that machine gun in operation. 

Position of squad leader.— -During the defensive battle 
the squad leader should place himself in a position from which 
he can discover new targets; control his squad; and maintain 
contact with platoon headquarters. 

73. Position and Duties of Assistant Squad Leader. — The 

assistant squad leader is located in the squad defensive area 
where he can best assist the squad leader. He may have one 
or more prepared positions to meet the requirements of his 
various duties. The squad leader will usually utilize him to 
assist in controlling the fire, enforcing fire discipline or main- 
taining contact with platoon headquarters, instead of firing. 
He may be required to fire when the squad leader believes the 
fire is necessary. 

74. Defense Against Tank Attack.— Action in case of tank 
attack must be carefully prearranged. Riflemen and automa- 
tic riflemen generally take cover against the attack of heavily 
armored tanks. They must also move or occupy cover in such 
a way as to unmask the field of fire of friendly antitank guns. 
They utilize terrain impracticable for the movement of tanks 
or take cover in deep foxholes during the passage of the 
tanks and then reoccupy their firing positions. 

Isolated tanks, particularly if immobilized can frequent- 
ly be effectively attacked from the rear or from their blind 

Under all circumstances infantry following the tanks 
are fired upon at the earliest possible moment with a view to 
separating them from the tanks. 

For employment of AT Grenades with Ml Launcher, 
see Supplement No. 1 AT Grenades, to "Weapons Marine In- 
fantry Battalion" a publication of the Marine Corps Schools. 

75. Defense Against Air Attack. — Infantry units must be 
fully trained and imbued with the determination to protect 
themselves against hostile aerial attacks without reliance upon 
special units. Concentrated rifle, automatic rifle and machine- 
gun fire is infantry's best protection against low flying hostile 
air attacks. 


BAR Team 

One method of squad antiaircraft defense 

RD 3349 F '9 ure l7 


The rifle squad in defense denies to hostile aircraft a 
remunerative target by — 

(a) Concealment. 

(b) Dispersion. 

(c) A coherent plan of fire. 
Concealment.-— The concealment of ground units from 

hostile aerial observation is indispensible if the troops are to 
be spared the danger and annoyance of being attacked from 
the air. 

Dispersion. — While the squad organizes its area for a 
strong defense against ground attack, the individual positions 
of the squad members should be so dispersed that the effects 
of an attack from the air will not destroy the squad. Individ- 
ual foxholes offer considerable protection against flat trajec- 
tory of the fragments of bombs. 

A coherent plan of fire. — When occupying a defensive 
position the unit commander establishes a plan of fire. It is 
too late to do this after an air attack has started. The plan 
should be a simple one insuring effective fire distribution. One 
method is to assign the center or leading attack plane to the 
center squad, the left plane to the left squad and the right 
plane to the right squad. (Fig 17.) Defending troops direct 
all available fire against planes which attack them. Squads 
in the forward positions, i. e., nearest the enemy, do not, how- 
ever, fire on planes unless they are directly attacked, as to do 
so discloses the location of their positions. However, all units 
whose positions have been located by the enemy, fire on hostile 
planes within range. It should be borne in mind that a large 
volume of small arms fire can be developed against low flying 
hostile aircraft with excellent results. 

In addition to the Air Guards provided to give warning 
of an approaching attack, all members of the squad should be 
on the alert to watch for aerial targets. 

76. Outpost. — When troops are in a defensive position, an 
outpost line of observation is constituted by outguards varying 
in strength from four men to a platoon. Likewise, when troops 
halt for several hours to rest, part of the command is placed 
so as to protect the remainder. In this latter case even though 
the nature of the operations of the main body is offensive, the 
work of the outguards becomes defensive in character. These 
protecting troops are called the outpost. 

The outpost is divided as shown in Figure 18. 





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The reserve sends out the supports, and the supports 
in turn place small groups to their front to keep the enemy 
from surprising them. These groups are called outguards. 

A squad when on duty as an outguard is called a sentry 
squad. A squad may be divided by the support commander 
into two and sometimes three separate groups and each group 
placed on duty at a different point. In this case each group is 
called a cossack post. 

A sentry squad posts three reliefs of one or two sentinels 

A cossack post posts only one sentinel for each of the 
three reliefs. ? 

Supports and outguards are numbered counterclock- 
wise from right to left. 

The posts of the outguard and the number of sentinels 
will be given in the support commander's orders. The leader 
of the outguard will select the posts for the sentinels. 

The posts of sentinels must be such that they can 
from cover: 

(1) See the ground in front and to the flanks of 
the outguard. 

(2) Be easily approached under cover from the 

During the day outguards are placed to see; at night 
to listen. At night, it may be necessary to change the position 
of the sentinels. The posts are chosen to cover possible 
avenues of approach in the outguard sector. 

Members of the outguard not posted as sentinels rest 
nearby under cover and concealment. 

Sentinels are given the following information: 

(1) As to enemy: 

(a) Direction, 

(b) Probable routes of approach, 

(c) Special sectors to watch. 

(2) As to our own troops: 

(a) Location of the support and outguards 
to the right and left. Number of his relief. Number of the 
outguard and number of the support. When asked by an 
officer or noncommissioned officer who he is, the sentinel gives 

the above information as follows: "Sentinel No. , Outguard 

No. , Support No " 

(b) Any patrols which have gone out and 
the route of each patrol. 

(c) Place where prisoners are to be taken. 
Place where messages are to be sent. 


(3) Special signals, such as gas alarm, barrage, 
and countersigns. 

(4) Names of features of military importance, 
such as roads, villages or streams (to be pointed out on the 
ground wherever possible. 

The outguard commander will be told in orders what 
to do in case the enemy attacks. Usually in such cases the 
outguards drop back to the position prepared by their support. 

77. Withdrawal.— When the squad is ordered to withdraw, 
the movement to the rear is coordinated with adjacent units 
and supported by the fire of friendly troops. The route over 
which the men are to retire is designated and the squad as- 
sembled at some point in the rear. The men retire from cover 
to cover, taking advantage of defiladed routes. The with- 
drawal is screened, as far as possible, from enemy observation. 
The squad leader withdraws with the last element of the 
squad, usually the automatic rifle team. 









78. The BAR Squad, Composition and Armament. — The 

BAR squad is a unit of the Rifle Platoon of the Rifle Company, 
and is in addition to the three rifle squads of that platoon. It 
consists of eight men, organized as follows : 
1 Corporal Squad leader. 
7 Privates and Privates 
First Class. 

One of the Privates First 
Class acts as Assistant Squad 
Leader, two are automatic rifle- 
men, two are assistant auto- 
matic riflemen and two are am- 
munition carriers. 

The squad is armed with two 
automatic rifles and six rifles. 
The corporal may be armed with 
a Thompson Submachine Gun 
instead of a rifle. 

The two automatic rifles of the BAR squad are in addi- 
tion to the automatic rifle with which each rifle squad of the 
rifle platoon is equipped. There is also an extra automatic 
rifle normally carried in reserve on the company weapons 
carrier for each Rifle Platoon, making a total of six automatic 
rifles to the Rifle Platoon. 

79. Characteristics of the Automatic Rifle. — The BAR 

Squad is armed with the Browning Automatic Rifle, M1918 
A2. (Fig. 19.) This rifle is capable of the rapid production 
of a large volume of accurate, concentrated or distributed fire 
and offers a small target when in action. Automatic riflemen 
have the marching mobility of riflemen but not their capa- 
bility for short bursts of speed. The automatic rifle is not 
suited for sustained fire for long periods, nor for indirect fire, 
but, for short periods of time, can produce a volume of fire 
equivalent to that of several Ml rifles. The automatic rifle 
is a most effective shoulder weapon against hostile aircraft. 
(Fig. 20.) It may fire armor piercing, ball and tracer ammuni- 







Automatic Rifleman 

W334V ■ r 


Automatic Rifleman firing at hostile aircraft 


The cyclic rate can now be changed at will from the 
normal rate of about 600 rounds per minute to a decreased 
rate of about 350 rounds per minute. This decreased cyclic 
rate has greatly increased the accuracy of automatic fire. It 
also enables the gun to be fired automatically from the should- 
er in the standing position. 

A stock rest and bipod mount have been provided to 
permit laying the gun on a final protective line during day- 
time. An elevating screw and clamp on the stock rest allow 
the gun to be laid and clamped for any desired range. Aiming 
stakes, or improvised stakes driven along the side of the 
barrel, can be used to control the direction of fire. Thus the 
gun can deliver accurate automatic fire along a predetermined 
line during periods of reduced visibility. 

80. The Automatic Rifle Team. — The BAR Squad may be 
divided into two automatic rifle teams of three men each, one 
of whom is designated as team leader. Thus the Rifle Platoon 
leader has a highly flexible unit to augment the defense of his 
position. When the squad is divided into teams, the squad 
leader and his assistant, supervise the preparation of the firing 
positions and the supply of the teams, or where the additional 
automatic rifle is made available from reserve, they may 
constitute a third team. 

The automatic rifles form the principal fire elements of 
the rifle platoon in defense. The teams generally occupy 
separate emplacements so located as to cover the entire sector 
of fire of the platoon. Where the platoon covers an exception- 
ally wide front, the automatic rifles may be assigned flanking 
missions, leaving frontal field of fire to the riflemen. Where- 
ever practicable, alternate emplacements are selected for each 
automatic rifle. 

Automatic rifle teams should be located within and 
attached to the unit occupying the defense area. (Fig. 16.) 
Each auto-rifle should be assigned a principal fire mission and 
a sector of fire. The sector of fire should not exceed 90 
degrees. Auto-rifles open fire when enemy units arrive within 
close range and present a remunerative target. 

When an auto-rifle team is attached to a rifle squad it 
covers the entire fire sector of the squad. It should be located 
to fire across the front of adjacent squads. 

When auto-rifle teams are not attached to rifle squads, 
their exact locations and their principal fire missions are 
determined by the Platoon Leader assisted by the BAR squad 
leader. The Platoon Leader coordinates the auto-rifle fire with 
that of the light and heavy machine guns. The auto-rifles are 
sited to execute their principal fire mission. 

81. Principal Defensive Fire Missions. — a. Cover by fire 
avenues of approach not covered by light and heavy machine- 
gun fire. 


b. Cover by fire gaps in final protective lines of light 
and heavy machine guns. 

c. Fire in support of adjacent combat < groups by 
placing fire either across their front or along their flanks. 

d. Cover intervals between combat groups. 

e. Protect exposed flanks of the platoon. 

The assignment of the same fire mission to both auto- 
matic rifles of the BAR squad will result in greater density 
of fire and more sustained fire. However, the number of fire 
missions to be performed usually will require that the auto- 
rifles be employed singly. 

82. Selection of Firing Positions.— In the defense, auto- 
rifles may occupy primary or alternate positions. The mission 
assigned the squad is the governing factor governing the 
selection of primary positions. Other factors are: 

(1) The sectors of fire. 

(2) Safety for the auto-rifles and their personnel 
(cover and concealment). 

(3) The time available. 

(4) The routes of approach for occupation and 

83. Preparation of Firing Positions. — As soon as the loca- 
tion of a position is determined its preparation is begun. This 
work is usually accomplished in the following priority: 

(1) Clearing fields of fire. 

(2) Assembling camouflage and laying it out 
ready for use. 

(3) Digging and camouflaging the emplacement 
for the primary position. (Fig. 21.) 

(4) Preparing firing data to critical terrain fea- 
tures and supplying the position with ammunition and other 
necessary supplies. 

All of the above operations may proceed simultaneously, 
different members of the team being assigned different duties. 
After the initial work has progressed to include an adequate 
emplacement for the primary position, an alternate position 
should be prepared. Covered routes between the positions 
should be selected, existing rifle or communication trenches 
and natural cover being utilized for the purpose as far as 
practicable. Where no covered route is available a shallow 
communicating trench should be dug and camouflaged. (Fig. 
22.) Frequently riflemen will be called upon to assist in this 


BAR Team in foxholes with camouflaged shallow communicating trench 




Automatic Rifleman of BAR team in foxhole with teammate in shallow 
communicating trench 


During the time that the primary position is being pre- 
pared the weapon should be prepared to fire against the enemy 
in case of attack. 

84. Fire Direction and Control. — The platoon leader assigns 
a general position area and a target or a target area to the 
squad leader. The squad leader assigns approximate positions 
and targets or sectors of fire to the automatic rifle team. Fire 
sectors are assigned where definite targets cannot be definitely 
located or the teams are too widely separated for target desig- 
nation by the squad leader. Where a line target is designat- 
ed, fire may be distributed between the teams by the designa- 
tion of a delimiting point in or near the target. 

85. Defense Against Tank Attack.— Riflemen and auto- 
riflemen generally take cover against a tank attack. Using 
armor-piercing bullets, the automatic rifles open fire on lightly 
armored vehicles. 

86. Antiaircraft Fire.-— Whenever practicable, BAR squads 
assigned to antiaircraft missions are employed as a unit. In 
shelter, the BAR squads of the company may be united under 
the direct control of the company commander in order to 
obtain concentrated fire effect. Where several automatic 
rifles are employed under common fire control, fire distribution 
is prearranged; the leading or right airplanes, the next suc- 
ceeding to the rear or left are assigned to designated teams. 
Otherwise the same principles governing the Rifle Squad's 
defense against air attack, (Par. 75), apply to the BAR squad. 

87. Outpost Duty.— A BAR squad or an automatic rifle 
team from the BAR squad frequently reinforces a rifle squad 
on outpost duty. It opens fire at long range on the advancing 
enemy. On close approach of the attacking force it withdraws 
from its position over routes previously selected to avoid 
masking the fire of the rifle echelon. 




88. The Rifle Platoon, Composition and Armament. — The 

rifle platoon is the largest subdivision of the rifle company. 
It consists of: 

a. A platoon headquar- 

b. 3 rifle squads. 

c. 1 BAR squad. 
The platoon headquarters con- 
sists of: 

a. A platoon leader (nor- 
mally a lieutenant). 

,b. A platoon sergeant, 
who is second in command of 
the platoon. 

c. 1 Sergeant, platoon 
right guide. 

d. 4 Privates, or pri- 
vates first class, three of whom 
are messengers and signalmen 
and one supply (ammunition, 
water and rations). 

The platoon commander and 
the platoon sergeant are armed R03349 
with the carbine. Other mem- 
bers of the platoon headquarters are armed with the rifle and 
bayonet. The three rifle squads and the BAR squad are 
armed as stated in Pars. 68 and 78 respectively. 

89. The Platoon Defense Area. — Defense is accomplished 
by organizing, occupying and defending a series of mutually 
supporting defensive areas or tactical localities, each with a 
definite assignment of troops and mission. Thus, the Rifle 
Company Commander, assigned an area to defend, divides it 
among his platoons, and the ground actually occupied and to 
be defended by the platoon is called the Platoon Defense Area. 
The entire Platoon Defense Area is not always physical- 
ly occupied by the Platoon. (Fig. 23.) Terrain plays an 
important role. As the Company Commander divided the 
area assigned his company, so the platoon leader establishes 
within his area groups in positions that will give the strongest 




















^O 3-J^9 

FIG. 24 

defense, covering the remainder of the area with fire. (Fig. 
24.) The smallest of these groups may be two or three men. 
Other areas within the Platoon Defense Area may be occupied 
by half-squads, squads, squads reenforced by automatic rifle 
teams, mortars and light machine guns from the Company's 
Weapons Platoon and various other combinations. These 
groups are echeloned in depth throughout the battle position 
with varying intervals between them, that is, they are irregu- 
larly checkerboarded. They should be close enough for 
proper control and mutually supporting. The interval 
between groups is covered by the fire of mutually supporting 
groups and by the fire of groups in the rear. 

The frontage which a platoon can adequately defend 
depends upon many factors, including its strength, the terrain, 
density of supporting fires, and the character of the opposing 
force. A platoon at full strength, as part of an infantry 
division and with flanks protected by other troops may defend 
a frontage of from 200 to 400 yards. The depth of platoon 
areas does not exceed 200 yards and is generally less. 

Relatively narrow frontages are assigned on those parts 
of a position which permit of the covered approach of attack- 
ing forces to within close range of the position. Wide front- 
ages are permissible where the hostile approach is exposed 
to observation and fire over a long distance. Obstacles along 
the front of the main line of resistance permit increase of 
frontage. Vital tactical localities are usually strongly held. 
At times, in order to effect economy of force, extremely wide 
fronts may be assigned to units in localities where a loss of 
ground will not affect the integrity of the defense as a whole. 
The mission of such units should be in keeping with their capa- 
bilities. The assignment of wide frontage to a unit decreases 
the depth over which its holding garrisons are deployed. 

90. Instructions to the Rifle Platoon Leaders.— It is the 

duty of the Platoon Leader to assign missions to each squad 
and to the supporting weapons that may be attached. These 
missions are based upon the instructions he receives from his 
Company Commander which include: 

a. (1) Information relative to the enemy. 

(2) Position and mission of adjacent platoons and 
supporting weapons, including machine guns, antitank wea- 
pons and artillery fires in the platoon fire sector. 

(3) Location of dead spaces in bands of machine- 
gun fire. 

(4) Location and activity of detachments operat- 
ing in advance of the main line of resistance. 

b. (1) Decision of the Company Commander as to 
how he will use his Company to carry out his mission. 

(2) The exact course of the main line of resistance 
in the platoon area. 


c. (1) Specification of Platoon Defense Areas and 
sector of fire assigned to the platoon. 

(2) Instructions relative to mortar and automatic 
rifle fires in accordance with the battalion fire plan (when 
required by the situation). 

(3) Arrangements for mutual support by fire with 
adjacent platoons. 

(4) Instructions relative to the development of 
the position (camouflage, combat emplacements, accessory de- 
fenses, clearing of the field of fire, dummy works, antitank 
defenses) . 

(5) Conditions under which fire is to be opened in 
case of attack. 

(6) Commanders authorized to call for final pro- 
tective fires. 

d. Ammunition supply. 

e. (1) Prearranged signals. 

(2) Location of Company Command Post. 

91. Reconnaissance of the Platoon Area. — Having received 
his orders from the Company Commander, the Platoon leader 
arranges for the movement of his platoon to the area assigned, 
and then makes as detailed reconnaissance of his Platoon 
Defense Area and the ground to his front as time will permit. 
During this reconnaissance he determines, as far as prac- 
ticable — 

a. The approaches available to the attacker and their 
relative danger to the defense of the area assigned. 

b. The nature of the fields of fire. 

c. Available cover and concealment. 

d. Available routes from the rear. 

e. The positions on the ground of boundaries and 
limiting points. 

f. The location of adjacent combat units. 

g. The positions on the ground of machine guns to be 
placed within the Platoon Area; the sectors of fire and the 
final protective lines of other machine-guns firing in support 
of the platoon; defiladed spaces in final protective lines. 

h. The positions of any antitank guns or mortars to be 
located in or near the Platoon Defense Area. 

i. The indicated location of artillery, battalion, and 
company mortar fires to be placed in front of the platoon posi- 

j. The nature of the ground in front of the Platoon 
Position as it affects the strength, location, and route of with- 
drawal of local security detachments. 


The platoon leader should make arrangements for ex- 
changing mutually supporting fires with such commanders of 
nearby combat units as he is able to meet at this time, and for 
protecting supporting weapons, and coordinating his fires with 

92. Instructions to Squad Leaders. — While making his re- 
connaissance the Platoon Leader makes an estimate of the 
situation confronting his platoon and decides upon a plan of 
defense within the outline of the orders already given him. 
He then issues to his squad leaders his orders for the defense 
of the platoon area. 

Generally the platoon order will be oral and fragmen- 
tary in form. Frequently the platoon leader will place his rifle 
squads and BAR teams in the positions selected for them and 
direct them to commence the work of organization. While 
the work is going on he will give his subordinates such addi- 
tional information and instructions as he may deem necessary. 
Whenever the initial order of the platoon leader is fragmen- 
tary, the remaining details of the complete order will be 
imparted to the platoon at the earliest possible moment. 
Whether fragmentary or complete, the issuance of the order 
habitually follows the standard "Five Paragraph Form," to 
insure nothing being overlooked. In his orders and subsequent 
actions the Platoon Leader — 

a. Distributes the assigned platoon fire sector to the 
rifle squads. 

b. Fixes the location of automatic rifle emplacements 
so as to cover the assigned fire sectors and provide mutual 
flanking support. 

c. Assigns fire and cover positions to the rifle squads. 
(Par. 70.) 

d. Checks the arrangements of squad leaders for ob- 
servation and command and verifies their correct understand- 
ing of their fire sectors. 

e. Assigns a firing position and targets to the 60mm 
mortar (if attached) so as to cover dead spaces in the bands 
of machine-gun fire and to bring down fire on any cover within 
midrange under which hostile forces can assemble for attack. 

f. Designates alternate positions for the automatic 
rifles, the mortar and the rifle squads. 

g. Select as command post a location which will afford 
effective observation over the platoon area, its sector of fire, 
and the areas of adjacent platoons, and which will facilitate 
his movement to any part of the platoon area where his pres- 
ence may be required. 

h. Posts an observer at or in the close vicinity of his 
command post and provides reliefs so as to maintain continu- 
ity of observation by day and by night. 


i. Supervises the organization and occupation of the 

j. Conducts the defense. 

93. Organization of the Ground. — a. The strength of a 
position is increased by clearing fields of fire and the con- 
struction of field fortifications and obstacles. Work on 
strengthening the position is continuous as long as it is occu- 
pied. The degree and priority of organization of the position 
is usually prescribed by the company commander. The usual 
priority is — 

(1) Clearing fields of fire. 

(2) Preparing weapons emplacements. 

(3) Digging foxholes. 

(4) Digging shallow connecting trenches. 

(5) Construction of wire entanglements and other 
obstacles around the groups. 

b. The platoon defense area must be prepared for all- 
around defense. Thus organization of the ground includes the 
preparation of supplementary positions so that fire can be 
delivered in any direction. Supplementary positions are staked 
out early in the organization of the ground and actually pre- 
pared as time becomes available. They are occupied when 
enemy attack requires the protection of the flank or rear of 
the group position. During the organization of the platoon 
position rifles and automatic rifles are never stacked. Each 
member of the platoon keeps his weapon close at hand and 
ready for instantaneous use at all times. Otherwise, he is not 
prepared to defend the position in case of a surprise enemy 

(1) Security. — During the organization and occu- 
pation, steps must be taken to insure timely warning of the 
approach of the enemy. The measures to be taken will usually 
be stated in the company defense order. In addition, 
measures for local security of the platoon should be taken. 
This usually is accomplished by squad leaders detailing senti- 
nels to observe to the front and flanks at all times. 

< (2) Supervision of organization and occupation of 
the position. — The platoon leader supervises the execution of 
the work of organization and adjusts minor discrepancies and 
misunderstandings. At this time, also, he should confer with 
adjacent group commanders. Readjustments of initial dispo- 
sitions frequently will have to be made, and the platoon leader 
constantly should seek better coordination of his fires with 
those of adjacent units. He should now make a sketch show- 
ing the dispositions of his units and send it to company head- 

94. Communication. — Communication within the groups is 
by oral orders, arm and hand signals. The platoon leader 


places himself within the position so that he can readily get in 
touch with his subordinate leaders. Communication with 
company headquarters is by messenger. Covered routes to 
the rear to be used by messengers and carrying parties should 
be located. Where none exist, shallow communication 
trenches should be dug. 

95. Arrangements for Securing Ammunition, Food and 
Water. — Ammunition should be placed in the initial position 
of each squad and in the supplementary position, and a reserve 
retained at the command post of the platoon. The method of 
supplying the platoon with food and water will be greatly 
influenced by the enemy situation. If the threat of hostile 
attack requires the presence of all individuals in the area, food 
and water should be brought forward from the company ration 
truck or kitchen by carrying parties. These carrying parties 
may be from reserve or support units, but if possible should be 
from the unit to be fed. If the attack is not imminent the 
platoon may be fed in reliefs at the company mess location or 
a small group may be sent to the rear which, after being fed, 
carries water and food forward for the remainder of the pla- 
toon. This latter method should in most instances give the 
best results. The habitual grouping of men must be guarded 
against at all times, or hostile air attack will be almost certain. 

96. Coordination of Fires. — The combat strength of the pla- 
toon is increased by a well-planned system of coordinated 
fires. The fires of automatic rifles, squads, and smaller 
groups should be sited so as to have a good field of fire to the 
front and flanks of the position, cover the enemy approaches 
to the position, and so that these defensive fires may be direct- 
ed across the front of other units within the platoon and 
adjacent groups. (Fig. 24.) By this means the flanks and defi- 
laded spaces which cannot be reached by the weapons of one 
group may be reached by the weapons of another. Front line 
machine guns are sited to place interlocking bands of grazing 
fire across the front of the positions. The groups protect the 
machine-gun crews from small groups of the enemy who may 
infiltrate into the position. Riflemen cover the dead spaces in 
the bands of machine-gun fire so that the entire front is cover- 
ed with fire. 

97. Conduct of the Defense. — Upon the approach of the 
enemy, all elements of the platoon take their battle positions. 
Individuals remain under cover until the enemy arrives within 
effective range of their weapons. Then all targets appearing 
in the assigned sectors of individuals and groups are taken 
under fire and kept under fire in order to break up the attack 
before it reaches the position. If the enemy succeeds in infil- 
trating through the intervals to positions which threaten the 
flanks and rear of the platoon, units or individuals are moved 
to supplementary positions to meet the threat. If the enemy 


does enter the position, he is met and driven out by fire, hand 
grenades, and the bayonet. In general, the success of the 
defense depends upon each group holding its position. # The 
irregular arrangement on the ground of squads and individuals 
insures that enemy groups which work past forward groups 
will be met by the fire of those in the rear. 

Mutual supporting rifle and automatic rifle fire will be 
delivered from one group across the front of an adjacent group 
when the adjacent group position is in grave danger of being 
entered by enemy forces and the assisting unit is pot too 
heavily engaged within its own sector. Close in flanking ma- 
chine-gun fire across the front of adjacent groups is normal. 

In case of penetration of an adjacent platoon area 
squads or parts thereof are moved to alternate emplacements 
and form a line of resistance toward the exposed flank. The 
platoon holds its own area against a flank attack but does not 
move any of its elements into the adjacent area. 

The platoon sergeant and the platoon guide take post 
where they can best assist the platoon leader. Usually one 
takes a secondary observation post, and the other watches the 
platoon leader's signals to the squads and sees that they are 
understood and carried out. 

98. Procedure in Hasty Defense. — a. General. — When the 
defense is to be assumed while in close proximity to or in 
contact with the enemy, the procedure given in paragraph 93 
will be modified according to the time available and the enemy 
situation. No matter how hurriedly the defense is initiated 
it must be based on a plan. 

b. Defense assumed in contact with the enemy. — 

(1) If, during the attack the platoon is halted by 
enemy fire, it digs in and holds the ground it then occupies 
until other action is prescribed. In this case the procedure 
followed in assuming the defense will vary greatly from that 
given in paragraph 91. The reconnaissance of the platoon 
leader will probably be only that which he can perform from 
his position flat on the ground. Squads and attached weapons 
may be unable to change their positions. The organization of 
the ground will consist of individuals digging foxholes. The 
coordination of fires with other units will be more limited. 

(2) The platoon leader should take advantage of 
every opportunity to increase the defensive strength of the 
platoon by redisposing squads, organizing the ground, coordi- 
nating fires, and otherwise strengthening the position in ac- 
cordance with his definite plan of defense. 

99. The Support Platoon in Defense. — General. — The rifle 
company in defense is disposed in depth. One platoon or its 
equivalent, is usually located in rear of the forward groups; 
it is then called a support platoon. The support platoon may 


organize and occupy one support position with the entire pla- 
toon, or with the platoon less detachments assigned to other 

100. Missions of the Support Platoon. — The location and mis- 
sion of a support platoon will be prescribed by the company 
commander. The mission may include all or part of the follow- 

a. To protect the machine guns, antitank guns, and 
mortars in the vicinity. 

b. To cover by fire the intervals between forward 

c. To block by fire the approaches from the flanks or 
rear of the company area. 

d. To fire into forward positions should they be cap- 
tured by the enemy, in order to block his further advance and 
to prevent him from utilizing the favorable characteristics of 
the captured terrain. 

e. To counterattack or to support by fire counterattacks 
of other troops to retake a forward position or vital terrain 
feature captured by the enemy. 

101. Actions of Support Platoon Leader. — The platoon leader 
takes the necessary measures for the observation of the fore- 
ground of his position and distribution of his units into reliefs. 
Squads are disposed usually with one or more alternate posi- 
tions so as to offer resistance toward a flank and act by fire 
or counterassault against enemy elements penetrating the 
front line. Automatic rifles are assigned positions for antiair- 
craft fire affording the best available defilade. They are as- 
signed different positions for ground fires. Fire control of 
automatic rifles is prearranged by the platoon leader or the 
platoon sergeant. In close terrain, a support platoon or ele- 
ments thereof may be held mobile for counterattack. Plans 
are made by the Platoon Leader for one or more lines of action. 

102. Plan and Procedure of Support Platoon Defense. — The 

provisions with reference to forward platoons apply to sup- 
port platoons. In addition, the defense plan should provide 
for the action to be taken by the support platoon in the event 
that a forward platoon area, or terrain feature vital to the 
defense, is captured by the enemy. 

103. Counterattacks. — As a rule counterattacks should not 
be made by a support platoon that is engaged in a fire mission 
on the battle position. The fire of the support platoon is usu- 
ally an integral part of the coordinated system of defensive 
fires of the company and its most effective employment will 
usually be the fulfillment of its fire mission. However, the 
support platoon may be directed to counterattack to retake a 


forward position captured by the enemy and plans for execut- 
ing such missions should always be made by the platoon lead- 
er. In certain situations a counterattack mission for the 
support platoon may be paramount to a fire mission. For 
example, in a hastily assumed defense the support platoon may 
be unable to occupy an organized firing position; at times 
firing positions may not be available because of thick woods or 
numerous buildings, or the platoon may be located on a reverse 
slope. In such cases the primary mission of the support pla- 
toon may be to counterattack and plans are made accordingly. 
A counterattack launched by a support platoon will seldom 
have fire support other than that which can be quickly deliver- 
ed by adjacent combat groups and direct supporting weapons. 

104. Security Missions of the Rifle Platoon. — Missions of the 
platoon may comprise occupation of detached posts in advance 
of the main line of resistance (or when a regular outpost is 
established, in advance of the outpost position) ; constituting 
an outpost support ; and, operating as advance (rear) party of 
an advance (rear) guard. 

Advanced posts conduct delaying action against enemy 
attack. They hold positions giving long-range views over the 
foreground of the position. They develop a heavy volume of 
fire against the enemy advance, and by their action mislead 
him as to the dispositions of the principal defending forces. 
Their lines of withdrawal are prearranged, and the withdrawal 
is so executed as not to mask the fire of the troops in the rear. 

When troops in the field are halted for any considerable 
length of time, an outpost is established. A temporary out- 
post is usually established by the advance (rear) guard for a 
marching column whenever the halt period is sufficiently pro- 
tracted to allow such disposition. 

105. The Platoon as the Support of an Outpost. — a. The pla- 
toon will usually be the support of an outpost; it will seldom 
be a reserve. The platoon leader is given in orders the num- 
ber of his support, its approximate location, and the sector it 
is to defend. 

b. Action of platoon leader when he receives his orders. 

(1) He assembles his platoon sergeant; platoon 
guides, and squad leaders and issues his preliminary orders. 
He informs the leaders of the limits of the sector assigned to 
the platoon, the locations of the units on the right and left, 
and the location of the reserve and the support line of resist- 

(2) He then marches his platoon to its sector and 
makes a personal reconnaissance. He selects the posts for his 

(3) He issues the remainder of his orders to the 
leaders, or to the entire platoon less any protecting groups 


that may have been sent out. He points out the location of the 
support, assigns outguards to the posts selected; gives the 
routes by which the posts are to be reached; states what the 
outguards will do if attacked; states the preparations to be 
made for defense; prescribes positions and sectors of fire of 
machine guns, if attached ; informs the platoon of the messing 
arrangements, where to send messages, and the location of 
the command post. 

(4) He provides for visiting patrols, sentinels for 
duty at the support, reliefs for preparation of the position, and 
all routine details such as kitchen police and rations or carry- 
ing parties. 

(5) He inspects the outguards soon after they are 
posted. He makes a sketch showing the location of the sup- 
port and outguards and sends it to the outpost commander. 

(6) He instructs visiting patrols in sufficient time 
to permit them to go over their routes in daylight. 

(7) He orders any special patrolling which he may 

(8) He inspects outguards frequently during the 

c. Preparation for defense. — The main resistance will 
rarely be made on the line of outguards. Outguards are usu- 
ally instructed to resist until the enemy forces them back, 
when they withdraw along a route indicated by the support 
commander to the line of main resistance. Outguards dig fox- 
holes for individual protection or use such natural cover for 
firing as is available. 

d. Patrolling. — (1) Communication with adjacent 
supports and between outguards is maintained by means of 
visiting patrols. The support commander has prominent 
points or prominent routes beyond the line of outguards recon- 
noitered by patrols during the day. 

(2) Reconnaissance beyond the line of outguards 
at night is limited to roads and paths. 

e. Conduct of men at post of support. — (1) When not 
on duty requiring arms, men at the post of the support are 
permitted to stack arms and fall out. 

(2) Fires at the post of the support are never 

(3) Smoking may be permitted under favorable 

106. The Platoon as a Picket. — A platoon as a picket con- 
ducts itself in the same manner as described for the platoon 
as a support of an outpost. 


107. The Platoon as a Detached Post.— a. Description.— 

Distant points, usually to a flank and not included in the gen- 
eral outpost line, are sometimes occupied by groups sent from 
the main body or from the outpost. These groups form what 
are known as detached posts. A platoon may be used at 
a detached post. 

b. Mission.— A detached post may be established to 
protect a feature of importance to the command, such as a 
bridge, or it may be detailed to cover, by means of patrols, a 
certain area. 

c. Distance from main outpost line. — Detached posts 
will usually be a mile or more from troops of the outpost line. 
They are, therefore, subject to attack from any direction and 
must at all times be ready to resist to front, flanks, or rear. 
This all-around preparedness is best obtained by placing a few 
men to observe, holding the remainder under cover in readi- 
ness to resist. 

d. Patrolling.— The patrolling to be done will depend 
upon the orders given the commander. Roads and paths to 
the post of the group are patrolled frequently and at irregu- 
lar intervals. If the mission requires a stand to be made, the 
detached post protects itself by means of an outguard and 
patrols and makes thorough preparation for all-around de- 
fense. If the mission is to reconnoiter a certain area and fall 
back when attacked, less preparation for defense may be 

e. Connection with other troops. — Patrols from the 
main body or from the outpost will connect the detached post 
with other troops. 

108. Position Defense. — a. Preparations for relief. — When 
a platoon is notified that it is to be called for duty in a defen- 
sive position, the leader assures himself by inspection that 
the arms, clothing and equipment of his men are in proper 
condition and each man has the ammunition, reserve rations 
and kit prescribed by orders and regulations. 

b. Reconnaissance. — The relief of troops holding part 
of a defensive position usually takes place at night. The pla- 
toon leader makes a personal reconnaissance by daylight of 
the position to be held by his platoon. Accompanied by a 
messenger, he proceeds with his company commander to the 
command post of the company to be relieved, where the plan 
of defense of the company area is studied. He then goes with 
his messenger and a guide furnished by the outgoing company 
to the command post of the platoon which he is to relieve. He 
sends the messenger back to join the incoming company com- 
mander and releases the guide. 


c. Plan. — He receives an extract of the plan of defense 
from the platoon leader he is to relieve. The extract com- 
prises — 

(1) Mission of the platoon and each squad (for 
example, to cover a sector of fire or to flank an adjacent ele- 
ment; or to occupy a combat position in case of alarm, to- 
gether with contemplated future action). 

(2) Detailed sketches of the dispositions and of 
the hostile trenches. 

(3) Missions of adjacent platoons, means of com- 
munication with them and with the company commander. 

(4) Plan of work. 

d. Inspection.— The two platoon leaders then make an 
inspection of the position and arrange for such transfer of 
supplies and equipment as may be authorized. The incoming 
platoon leader obtains information concerning — 

(1) Conduct and habits of the enemy; strength 
and location of hostile obstacles; gaps in hostile wire; loca- 
tion of hostile posts, machine guns, and mortars; mining ac- 
tivities; hostile patrols. 

(2) Lay of hostile close-in defensive fires, both 
artillery and machine gun, and gaps therein. 

(3) Points in own lines exposed to fire of hostile 

(4) Location of friendly machine guns; their sec- 
tors of fire and gaps in their final protective lines. 

(5) Location of supporting mortars and their 

(6) Location of antitank weapons and their sec- 
tors of fire. 

(7) Location of artillery barrages in front of the 

(8) Signals for starting and stopping close-in de- 
fensive fires. 

(9) Location of nearest artillery observer. 

(10) Location, nature and capacity of shelters. 

(11) Defensive measures against gas and system of 
giving gas alarm. 

(12) Accessory defenses and hidden passages 
through the wire. 

(13) Location of nearest aid station and route 

(14) Arrangements for supply of water, ammuni- 
tion (including grenades) sandbags, wire, pyrotechnics and 
other supplies. 

e. Point of assembly. — A point of assembly for guides 
who are to lead incoming platoons is usually designated. 


f. Preparations by outgoing platoon. — The outgoing 
platoon makes its preparations for departure before the hour 
of relief. It takes with it only its own equipment. Grenades 
and cartridges in excess of the number prescribed to be car- 
ried on the person are left in the position. A list is prepared 
of trench stores on hand which the incoming platoon leader is 
to check and sign. Trenches, shelters and heads are left clean. 

g. Arrival of incoming platoon. — The guide meets the 
incoming platoon at the assembly point at the designated hour 
and conducts it to a designated point in the platoon area. The 
squads of the incoming platoon are then assigned to positions. 
They are conducted to those positions by guides furnished by 
the corresponding squads of the outgoing platoon. Individual 
observers and sentries are then relieved. The leader of the 
outgoing platoon is responsible that no man leaves his place 
until the member of the incoming platoon who is to relieve him 
is posted and is thoroughly familiar with all of his duties while 
so posted. 

h. Instruction to incoming platoon.— At some conven- 
ient time the incoming platoon leader informs his men con- 
cerning their firing or assembly positions and duties in case of 
attack, the parts of the position exposed to the fire of hostile 
snipers, the location of ammunition niches and heads, and the 
location of the nearest aid station and platoon, company and 
battalion command posts, and routes thereto. 

i. Completion of relief. — As soon as he has taken over 
his position, the incoming platoon leader reports that fact to 
his company commander. The outgoing platoon leader march- 
es his platoon out of the company area when so directed by his 
company commander. In case of attack while the relief is in 
progress, the outgoing platoon leader retains command. 

j. Inspection by incoming platoon leader. — The incom- 
ing platoon leader inspects the position of each element as 
soon as the position has been occupied to insure that each 
squad leader understands his orders and that all parts of the 
platoon are in readiness for defensive action. 

k. Dispositions.— Unless cogent reasons for a change 
are apparent, the plan of defense in force at the time of relief 
continues in force during the first night of occupancy. The 
routine varies as to the nature of the position held and its 
location in the system of defenses. 

1. Daily routine.— (1) The platoon sergeant keeps a 
duty roster. Details for carrying parties, working parties, 
and other service are adjusted in an equitable manner. Each 
squad details its own sentries ; details are made by the platoon 
only when the entire unit is sheltered close together. Men 
are warned for duty and informed as to the hour when the 
duty is to commence. Bulletin boards are improvised for the 
posting of platoon orders, when practicable. 


(2) One hour before daylight and at dusk all of- 
ficers and men go to their proper posts. At the afternoon for- 
mation, rifles, ammunition and equipment are inspected, and 
the firing position of each man is tested to see that it is 
suitable. All gas defense measures are inspected and alarm 
apparatus tested. At the morning formation, ammunition is 
issued to replace that expended during the night. 

(3) The Platoon leader holds practice alerts and 
alarms. The prompt issue of troops from shelters, the man- 
ning of firing or assembly positions, the preparation for 
counterattack are practiced. The ability of the platoon to 
meet a sudden hostile attack depends on the efficiency of its 
sentries and observers and the promptness with which the 
platoon takes its posts when the prescribed alarm is given. 

(4) If necessary, the platoon leader makes pro- 
vision for heating soup and coffee (charcoal, solidified alcohol). 
He takes all possible measures for the proper sustenance of his 
men. Ration parties carry back unserviceable materiel and 
the weapons of the killed and wounded. 

(5) The helmet is always worn and the gas mask 
carried. In a combat echelon company, the men are always 
under arms ; the pack, canteen and blanket are set in order in 
the shelter. Rifles are cleaned and oiled daily and after a gas 





109. Tlie Weapons Platoon, Rifle Company, Composition and 

Armament.— The Weapons Platoon of the Rifle Company con- 
sists of — 


a. A Platoon Headquar- 

b. A Mortar Section. 
A Light Machine-Gun 




CAL. 30.M-I 


The Platoon Headquar- 
ters consists of a platoon leader, 
normally a lieutenant, a gunnery 
sergeant who is second in com- 
mand, and two privates who 
serve as messengers and signal- 
men. The lieutenant and gun- 
nery sergeant are armed with 
the carbine, while the two pri- 
vates are armed with the rifle. 

The Mortar Section is in 
charge of a Sergeant who is Sec- 
tion Chief and consists of two 
Mortar Squads of 5 men each, 
one of whom is a Corporal and 
Squad Leader. 

Each squad has a 60mrn mortar. The mortar is served 
by a gunner, an assistant gunner and two other privates who 
handle ammunition, water, rations, etc. (Fig. 25.) 







'■'' "':•- a* . >-. 



* V 

*.© »«** 


The 60mm Mortar Squad 

(Shown without cover to illustrate organization) 

The sergeant, the gunners and assistant gunners are 
armed with the carbine. The corporals are armed with the 
Thompson Submachine Gun and the remaining privates with 

The Light Machine-Gun Section is in charge of a Ser- 
geant who is Section Chief, and consists of two light machine- 
gun squads of six men each, one of whom is a Corporal and 
Squad Leader. 

Each squad has a light machine gun, cal. .30 M1919A4. 
There are two light machine gunners to each squad and three 
men for supply (ammunition, water, rations, etc.) (Fig. 26.) 

The Sergeant Section Chief and the light machine gun- 
ners are armed with the carbine. The squad leaders are 
armed with the Thompson Submachine Gun and the remain- 
der of the privates with rifles. 


■■ > 

' ; *' ' 


The Light Machine Gun Squad 

(Shown without cover to illustrate organization) 

The personnel of the Weapons Platoon are not only 
trained as individual Marines, but in the use of all the weapons 
with which the platoon is equipped. Likewise, the noncom- 
missioned officers of the platoon are trained to take charge of 
either a mortar or light machine-gun section. 

110. Characteristics of Weapons. — a. Tfte light machine 
gun. — The light machine gun, cal. .30 M1919A4, is a weapon 
that fires small arms ammunition automatically with recoil 
supported by a fixed mount. It is air-cooled and relatively 
mobile. Its crew can maintain the march rate of a rifleman, 
but cannot move at the high speed of the individual rifleman. 
It delivers a large volume of fire rapidly and accurately. The 
capacity of the gun on its ground mount for overhead, indirect 
fire, and antiaircraft fires is limited. Its characteristics fit it 
for use in the attack for the close support of the smaller 
infantry units by flanking action; in defense to supplement 
the action of heavy machine guns. Within midrange (400-600 
yards) its accuracy is sensibly that of the heavy machine gun. 


b. The 60mm mortar. — The 60mm Mortar is a highly 
mobile and accurate curved-trajectory weapon, using an ex- 
plosive projectile weighing approximately 31/2 pounds, with a 
useful range of about 1,000 yards. The effective radius of 
burst of the high explosive projectile is about 15 yards; 
casualty-producing fragments carry much further. The bar- 
rel and bipod together weight 28 pounds, the base plate 23 
pounds. Its rate of fire may reach 20 rounds per minute. 
The weight of its ammunition exacts economy in expenditure. 
Commanders must always give especial consideration to the 
available and prospective ammunition supply in assigning 
missions to the mortars. A supply of mortar ammunition is 
usually dumped in a covered location convenient to the mortar 
positions. From this location it is carried to the mortar by the 
ammunition carriers of the squad. 

The cover requirements of the mortar are slight because 
of its low relief. Minor terrain features afford adequate cover. 
The curved trajectory of the mortar enables it to take advan- 
tage of deep defilade and to exercise a wide choice in the selec- 
tion of positions on varied ground. The mortar is adapted 
to overhead fire, to fire from masked positions and to fires 
against defiladed targets which cannot be reached effectively 
by the fire of flat-trajectory weapons. 

In addition to its fire missions, the mortar serves the 
purpose of a rifle company signal projector. 

111. General. — The Weapons Platoon, with its light machine 
guns and mortars, strengthens and augments the defense of 
the rifle company. The Company Commander specifies the 
employment of the weapons of the platoon, including firing 
positions and sectors of fire to be covered. He is assisted by 
the Weapons Platoon leader who makes the necessary recon- 
naissance of the company defense area and is always prepared 
to recommend firing positions and sectors of fire for each 
weapon of the platoon. 

112. Duties of Personnel, Platoon Headquarters, in Combat. — 

While the Platoon Leader is responsible for the training of the 
entire platoon and leads it as a unit during route and approach 
march, during combat he takes personal charge of the Mortar 
Section. The control of the light machine guns passes to the 
leaders of the rifle platoons when they are so assigned. If the 
Light Machine-Gun Section is retained under company con- 
trol, it functions under its own Section Leader. 

The Gunnery Sergeant, second in command of the pla- 
toon, assists the platoon leader in control of the platoon. When 
directed he joins the company commander and acts as agent 
for the platoon leader. 

One messenger accompanies the platoon leader and one 
reports to the company commander when so ordered. 


When a defensive position is to be occupied, the platoon 
leader moves with the company command group and executes 
such reconnaissance as may be directed by the company com- 
mander or as may be indicated by the situation. He conducts 
reconnaissance with a view to recommending to the company 
commander the employment of the mortars and light machine 
guns in the defense. 

A %-ton truck, assigned to Company Headquarters is 
available as a weapons carrier. For the most part, however, 
weapons will have to be manhandled, as the truck cannot 
always transport all of them and besides it has other utility 
functions. The platoon leader directs the movement of the 
carrier to the off -carrier position and will inform the section 
leaders as to the location of the firing position area or areas 
that have been selected. The section leaders move the sec- 
tions with their weapons to the vicinity of the position area 
and inform squad leaders as to the approximate position of 
each piece. The squad leaders make the detailed reconnais- 
sance for the exact location of the firing positions. 

113. The Mortar Section in Defense. — The mortars are em- 
ployed to cover dead spaces in the bands of machine-gun final 
protective fire and to fire on defiladed areas within midrange 
where hostile forces might assemble for attack. The execution 
of these missions may require one or more supplementary 

The Company Commander's orders for the defense 
designate the employment of his two mortar squads, including 
both their firing positions and sectors of fire. He may attach 
one or both squads to a rifle platoon or retain one or both of 
them under company control. Usually one squad is attached 
to each of the two front line rifle platoons. (Fig. 25.) 

When a mortar is attached to a rifle platoon, the rifle 
platoon leader is charged with functions of fire direction. 

When the mortar squads are held under company con- 
trol, the section leader supervises the preparation for fire 
missions assigned by the company commander. The platoon 
leader prepares fire data for any special fire missions which 
require the concentration of the fires of the two mortars. He 
supervises the replenishment of ammunition of the mortars 
attached to rifle platoons. 

114. Fire Direction and Control. — The mortar squad is the 
basic unit of fire control. The squad leader controls the fire 
of his mortar from an observation post at or near the firing 
position of the piece. The section or platoon leader exercises 
immediate fire direction and concentrates or distributes the 
fire by assignment of targets or sectors of fire. In defense the 
mortar squad is assigned a primary target area and may be 
assigned secondary target areas. Target areas are usually 
about 50 by 50 yards. Fire is opened on signal prescribed by 


the company commander or on orders of the leader of the rifle 
platoon to which the mortar may be assigned. On signal for 
the opening of final protective fires, mortars fire on their pri- 
mary target areas at the prescribed rate for the prescribed 
length of time. When not actually engaged in firing or in 
preparing to fire on another target, the mortar is laid to fire 
on its primary target area. 

115. Firing Positions. — In all cases the mortar positions must 
be within effective range of the targets and afford observation 
of the targets and friendly front-line troops. Wherever prac- 
ticable mortars fire from fully defiladed positions. (Fig. 27.) 


R0 3349 

60mm Mortar in position 

On flat terrain, however, the occupation of open positions is 
sometimes necessary to bring the mortars into proper rela- 
tion to their targets and the front-line troops. Positions per- 
mitting covered approach from the rear greatly facilitate 
ammunition supply and increase the value of the mortar as a 
supporting weapon. This consideration, however, must not be 
given precedence over the requirement of proper location with 
reference to the target and the main line of resistance. In 
locating the mortar position, advantage is taken of natural 
vegetation to conceal the piece from observation. Natural or 
artificial means are employed to camouflage the weapon and 
its emplacement. Where the situation indicates a prolonged 
occupation of its position, alternate mortar emplacements are 
selected. For a 60mm mortar emplacement see Fig. 28. 













FIG. 28 


Mortar emplacements should be within arm-and-hand 
signaling distance of the post of the commander under whose 
direction the mortars are operating (rifle platoon or weapons 
platoon commander). 

Distribution of the mortars should be made with a 
view to their ability to support the rifle platoons rather than 
to facilitate section or platoon concentrations of fire. 

116. The Light Machine-Gun Section in Defense. — The light 
machine gun is a direct fire weapon designated to deliver auto- 
matic fire at close and midranges against personnel and un- 
armored vehicles. It is primarily designed as an offensive 
weapon, but has an important function in the company defense 
area. Its high mobility and low relief adapt it to the per- 
formance of missions on the main line of resistance similar to 
those of the heavy machine gun. 

When a defensive position is occupied at the conclusion 
of an attack or of an approach march, the light machine guns 
are located on a base of fire by the company commander and 
the section assigned sectors of fire covering the front of the 
position. Fire missions are assigned by the company com- 
mander and fire opened on his orders. 

When a battalion defense area is organized, the bat- 
talion order assigns the location, sector of fire, and final pro- 
tective line of the light machine guns. No distinction is made 
between the basic missions assigned light and heavy machine 
guns covering the main line of resistance. The positions and 
missions of the light machine guns will not be altered without 
authority of the battalion commander. (Fig. 29.) 



■ . v rr 

The light machine-gun section occupies and organizes 
its positions and conducts its fires in the same manner as the 
heavy machine-gun units. Missions outside the zone of the 
main line of resistance or which detach the section from its 
company are not ordinarily assigned to light machine guns. 

117. Duties of Light Machine-Gun Section Leader in Com- 
bat. — The section leader ordinarily indicates the general posi- 
tion area given him by the company commander, and the squad 
leaders locate the exact emplacement of the guns and the 
route of approach thereto. 

The section leader directs the fire of the section and 
assigns targets or sectors of fire as given him by the com- 
pany commander. He also regulates the movements of the 
weapons to alternate positions. 

The squad leader is charged with fire control and fire 
discipline, the preparation and occupation of positions, the 
movement of the squad to designated position areas, intrench- 
ment and camouflage. They open fire at the direction of the 
section leader and keep him informed as to the ammunition 

When the situation does not permit close control by 
the section leader, he assigns sectors of fire to, the squads 
and releases fire control to the squad leaders. When the squad 
leader is thrown entirely on his own initiative, he takes his 
mission from the general defense plan of the company and 
leads his squad accordingly. 

118. Firing Positions. — The light machine guns are assigned 
missions and positions in the battalion plan of fire in order to 
coordinate the fires of all heavy and light machine guns of the 
battalion. The light machine guns are not detached from 
their companies for the execution of these missions. 

The light machine gun positions are selected so as to 
permit coverage of an assigned sector of fire. Whenever 
practicable cover in rear of the firing position should be avail- 
able for the shelter of the gun crews when not firing and to 
facilitate the supply of ammunition. A clear field of fire over 
an assigned sector should be available. When alternate posi- 
tions are selected the cover position should permit of covered 
access to both positions. Gun positions are separated by 
sufficient interval to safeguard against both pieces being taken 
out of action under the burst of the same projectile, ordi- 
narily 30 to 50 yards. They are usually within hailing or 
arm-and-hand signaling distance. For types of light machine- 
gun emplacements, see Figs. 30 and 31. 


'■■YV> ' : 



"U" Type Light Machine Gun Emplacement 
(Shown without camouflage to illustrate construction) 


If i * 


Three-hole Light Machine-Gun Emplacement 
(Shown without camouflage to illustrate construction) 



119. The Rifle Company, Composition and Armament. 

Rifle Company consists of — 



a. Company Headquar- 








One Weapons Platoon. 

c. Three Rifle Platoons. 

The Company Headquar- 
ters consists of the Company 
Commander, usually a Captain, 
the Executive Officer (second- 
in-command) usually a First 
Lieutenant, and twenty-seven 
enlisted men who assist the com- 
pany commander in the control, 
supply and administration of 
the company. This headquar- 
ters is normally divided into two 
groups : 

a. The command group. 

b. The supply and ad- 
ministrative group. 

The command group con- 
sists of those members of the 
Company Headquarters whom 
the Company Commander de- 
tails to personally accompany 
him or assist in the tactical con- 
trol of the company, and may 
include the lieutenant second-in- 
command, the 1st sergeant, sig- 
nal corporal, field musics, mes- 
sengers and signalmen. R0 " 49 

The supply and administrative group consists of those 
members of the Company Headquarters detailed to take care 
of administrative detail and supply, such as the Supply Ser- 
geant, clerk, cooks, and those men handling ammunition, 
water, rations, etc. 

The Captain, Lieutenant executive officer, 1st Sergeant 
and the two Field Musics are armed with the carbine. All 
others in the Company Headquarters are armed with rifles. 

Three caliber .60 antitank rifles are carried in the 
Company Headquarters and are available for use when needed. 


CAL. 30, M-l 




CAL. 30 

MORTARS 60mrr 






A 14-ton truck is assigned the company for use as a 
weapons carrier and for general utility. 

The composition and armament of the Weapons Pla- 
toon is given in detail in Par. 109. 

The composition and armament of the three rifle pla- 
toons is given in detail in Par. 88. 

120. General.— In the defense it is the mission of the rifle 
company to occupy, organize and defend an area the limits of 
which are assigned by the higher commander; or, when dur- 
ing the attack the advance of the company is stopped, it de- 
fends the terrain it then occupies. 

121. Frontages and Depths. — The rifle company is capable 
of making a strong defense on average terrain of an area not 
exceeding 400 to 600 yards in width and varying in depth 
from 400 to 600 yards. These limits can in no sense be con- 
sidered to be absolute, and are to be used merely as guides. 
Within the maximum limits the width and depth of the posi- 
tion occupied by the company when disposed for defense 
depends largely upon the terrain. (Fig. 32.) A company in a 
delaying action may be required to cover a frontage much 
greater than the above stated limits, however this additional 
width will necessitate that all units be placed in the front 
line, with a consequent sacrifice of depth in the position. 






Fig. 32. Rifle Company in Defense 

Showing location o( Mom Lin. of Resistance, Toclicol ond Protective Wire, Positions of the 3 Rifle 

the Employment of the 2 Ltghl Machine Guns with their sectors of fire ond final protective line. (One 

Is also shown on the right flonk with one section of heavy machine guns delivering supporting fire. ) 

>«««»< Toctlcol Wire 

-»"«««. Protective Wire 

1 i^y 

In close or heavily wooded terrain, where greater reli- 
ance must be placed upon the individual and close combat 
weapons, the frontages must be reduced. This reduction of 
frontages in woods may vary, depending upon the character of 
the woods and the degree of visibility. 

122. Assumption of the Defensive. — The rifle company will 
assume the defensive upon the order of higher authority, it 
will assume the defensive temporarily when in the attack its 
forward progress is stopped by the resistance of the enemy, or 
when exposed to surprise attack by strong enemy forces. 
Rarely will the company commander or platoon leader be 
faced with making a decision to defend. Such order will either 
be prescribed or will be dictated by circumstances. 

The order to the company commander will indicate to 
him whether the organization of the defensive position is to 
be deliberate or hasty. In the deliberate organization, ample 
time is available for thorough reconnaissance and complete 
coordination of the defensive means. The hasty organization 
presumes less time to be available for these purposes and 
imposes upon the company commander a curtailment of his 
reconnaissance and measures for coordination. This time 
varies in accordance with the situation. 

123. Procedure in the Deliberate Defensive. — While no rule 
can be given as to the specific personnel who accompany the 
company commander when he goes forward to receive the bat- 
talion order for the defense, it is desirable that certain indi- 
viduals of his command be present later to assist him in mak- 
ing his reconnaissance and in moving his company. In many 
situations, when directed to report for the defense order, the 
rifle company commander takes with him the first sergeant, 
and two or more messengers. 

124. Defense Order. — The battalion commander's order for 
the defense will cover, either in its initial form or in subse- 
quent instructions, such of the following items as are known 
or have been determined: 

a. (1) Information of the enemy — location; strength 
(known or estimated) ; composition ; dispositions. 

(2) Information of friendly troops- — location and 
mission of next higher unit and those on right and left; loca- 
tion and mission of supporting weapons; special support fur- 
nished by any unit. 

b. Decision of commander. — (1) General line to be 

(2) Organization of the ground (main line of 
resistance and extensions, outpost line). 

(3) Formation. 


(4) Boundaries of sectors occupied by the com- 
mand (when interior unit) and between subordinate units, 
limiting points. 

c. (1) Assignment of troops to sectors or defense 
areas. — Lines, sectors and extensions; security detachments 
to be employed; details of fortifications to be constructed, 
such as priority of work; initial garrisons; conduct of the 
defense. (Use a separate lettered subparagraph in written 
orders for each subordinate unit holding one of the subdivi- 

(2) Instructions for employment of machine guns, 
mortars, AA-AT guns, organic or attached. — General location 
of weapons and mission (separate subparagraph for each 
unit) . 

(3) Instructions for artillery (if attached). — 
Positions; missions; instructions relative to time of opening 
fire. Preparations for massing fire to support the counter- 

(4) Reserves. — Designation of units, commander; 
positions ; degree of readiness ; work to be done in organization 
of position. 

(5) Instructions for any troops not otherwise 

(6) Instructions for two or more elements of the 
command. .This may include time in which the position will be 
organized, and conduct of defense, as follows: 

(a) Instructions to troops on outpost. 

(b) Demolitions and road blocks. 

(c) Instructions regarding liaison and local 

(d) Counterattack — when made; by what 
units ; direction ; and by whom they may be ordered. 

(e) Instructions for coordination of fires. 

(f) Use or restrictions on use of chemicals. 

(g) Special instructions for organization of 
ground ; priority of work. 

d. Refer to administrative order if issued, otherwise 
include administrative instructions on — supplies (rations, am- 
munition, water, and engineer equipment) ; location of collect- 
ing and aid stations; disposition of prisoners; traffic control; 
disposition of the trains. 

e. (1) Instructions to signal communication person- 
nel such as — reference signal communication annex; special 

(2) Command posts — location of issuing unit and 
of next principal subordinate units. 


125. Operation Map.— The company commander may receive 
much of the foregoing information and directions in the form 
of an operation map or overlay. 

126. Initial Steps Upon Receipt of Defense Order. — Upon 
receipt of the battalion commander's defense order, the rifle 
company commander will immediately arrange to meet his 
subordinate commanders at a convenient time and place in 
order to issue his own orders for the defense, and will take such 
steps as may be necessary to get his company to the position 
should it not already have arrived in the locality. He should 
utilize the services of his first sergeant and frequently a mes- 
senger to assist in accomplishing these purposes. 

127. Tentative Plan — Plan of Reconnaissance. — Having dis- 
patched his first sergeant and messenger to guide the com- 
pany and the subordinate unit commanders, respectively, to 
the designated places, the company commander studies his 
map or sketch, and makes a comparison with the ground which 
is visible. From this map study the company commander 
makes a tentative plan of defense and a plan of ground recon- 

128. Ground Reconnaissance. — The company commander, 
accompanied by such messengers as remain with him, will 
next make a detailed reconnaissance of the ground. In gen- 
eral, this reconnaissance is made for the purpose of locating 
the platoon defense areas, and determining the measures to be 
taken in providing local security for the company position. 
The factors which influence and affect these locations, and 
which the company commander examines in detail are : 

a. The approaches available to an attacker, and their 
relative danger to the defense of the position. 

b. The tactical localities from which the approaches 
may be blocked by fire. At each tactical locality : 

(1) The nature of the fields of fire. 

(2) Available cover and concealment. 

(3) Available routes from the rear. 

(4) The degree to which the ground in the vicinity 
may block the advance of mechanized vehicles, and the possi- 
bilities for readily providing antimechanized obstacles. 

c. The nature of the ground in front of the position as 
it effects the strength and location of local security detach- 

d. The positions on the ground of boundaries and limit- 
ing points. 

e. The visible tactical localities within adjacent sectors. 

f . Defiladed areas suitable for the emplacement of the 
60mm mortars. 


g. The positions on the ground of machine guns to be 
placed within the company sector, and the sectors of fire from 
these guns if known. 

h. The positions on the ground of antitank guns to be 
placed within the company sector. 

i. The indicated location of artillery and battalion mor- 
tar fires to be placed in defense of the company sector. 

129. Completion of Plan. — Having completed his ground 
reconnaissance the company commander will proceed to the 
place at which he is to meet his subordinate unit commanders. 
At that point he will complete his plan for the defense of the 
sector, plotting his proposed dispositions on his map or sketch, 
and will make such notes as may be necessary to assist him in 
issuing his defense order. 

130. Company Defense Order. — When ready to issue his 
defense order, the company commander will assemble his 
subordinate unit commanders at a convenient place which 
overlooks the company's position. He will orient them and 
require them to make notes. His order will cover as much as 
is known or determined of the following items : 

a. The direction from which the enemy may be ex- 
pected to attack, and the hour after which an attack may be 

b. Information concerning supporting troops and adja- 
cent units, and so much of the battalion plan and the plan for 
supporting fires as may be of interest to platoon commanders. 

c. The mission of the company; that is, to defend the 
assigned sector; the boundaries and limiting points affecting 
the company dispositions. 

d. The assignment of definite areas and missions to 
each platoon and to the supporting weapons groups retained 
under company control; provisions for the coordination of 
fires between platoons and adjacent units. 

e. Provisions for local security. 

f. Priority of work. 

g. Arrangements for issue of engineer tools and 
materials, and any other administrative details which may be 
known and pertinent. 

h. Position of the company command post and of such 
platoon command posts as may be prescribed by the company 

131. Procedure in the Hasty Defense. — a. When the hasty 
defense is assumed the defense will differ from that prescribed 
in paragraph 122 as may be necessary by reason of lack of 
time. These differences will be manifested in one or more of 
the following ways: 


(1) The orders of all commanders will be to a great 
extent fragmentary, and frequently in the form of messages 
which may or may not be accompanied by rough sketches or 

(2) Boundaries and limiting points may not be 
accurately determined. 

(3) Positions and sectors of fire of machine guns 
and location for artillery barrages and normal defensive con- 
centrations of supporting mortars frequently will be undeter- 
mined prior to the time the rifle company actually organizes 
its position. 

(4) Detailed reconnaissance will be curtailed, and 
may consist only of a hasty examination of such parts of the 
area as are visible from a single observation point. 

(5) Coordination between adjacent units and with 
supporting weapons frequently must be deferred until after 
the troops are actually on the position. 

(6) Organization of the ground will often consist 
only of such work as the troops can accomplish in a limited 
time, using such equipment as is carried on the person. 

b. No matter how hurriedly the defense is initiated it 
must be based on a plan, incomplete though the plan may be. 
Following initial occupation of the position by his troops, the 
company commander will continue to study the situation and 
the terrain and make such early readjustments as are required 
in order to avoid unnecessary work. He will take advantage 
of lulls in the fight, fog, or darkness to make adjustments 
directed toward eventual complete coordination of the defense. 

132. The Plan of Defense. — a. General. — The front-line 
rifle company commander's plan of defense must envisage: 

(1) Prompt discovering of the enemy's attack. 

(2) Stopping or disorganizing the attack by fire 
before it reaches the main line of resistance. 

(3) In case the enemy's attack reaches or pene- 
trates the main line of resistance, the blocking of his further 
progress, or ejecting the enemy by counterattack, either by 
his company support, or by other troops supported by the fires 
of his company. 

133. Local Security.— a. Irrespective of security measures 
provided by higher commanders, front-line rifle companies 
habitually protect themselves against surprise by establishing 
local security. It is the mission of the company local security 
to observe for the approach of the enemy, and to give timely 
warning of his advance. A local security detachment will fire 
on the enemy for the purpose of driving off small hostile 
patrols, giving warning, and protecting itself. It withdraws 
to the battle positions after giving warning of the enemy's 


b. The company commander posts the company local 
security detachment in a locality from which it can observe 
the company sector in the direction of the enemy. This local- 
ity should seldom be farther than 600 yards from the main 
line of resistance. The local security detachment or detach- 
ments should be detailed from the support and will vary in 
strength from four men to two squads. When the terrain 
does not permit observation of the company sector from a 
single locality, the commander will direct front-line platoons 
to furnish local security for their respective positions. In 
either case, one or more sentry posts are established; in the 
first instance by the detachment, and in the second by the 
platoons. During fog or darkness local security is habitually 
sent out by the platoons. These security detachments should 
be relieved at about two hour intervals to insure proper vigi- 

134. Exterior Defense of the Company Position. — a. Gen- 
eral. — It is to be expected that the weapons of higher echelons 
(artillery, battalion mortars, machine guns) will engage 
the attacker at long range. The weapons of the front-line 
rifle companies will commence their fires as soon as remuner- 
ative targets are discovered within the effective ranges of 
the various weapons of the company. Unless otherwise di- 
rected, rifle fire is opened upon orders of the platoon com- 
manders. When specifically directed, or when insufficiency of 
ammunition makes such action necessary, all rifle company 
weapons may be required to withhold their fires until there is 
a direct threat against the battle position within the effective 
range of the company weapons. 

135. Siting of Weapons.— -a. Types of weapons.— The rifle 
company commander has at his disposal three types of weap- 
ons, namely: high angle fire weapons represented by 60mm 
mortars and grenades ; flat trajectory weapons represented by 
light machine guns, automatic rifles and rifles; and shock 
action weapons consisting of bayonets, carbines and pistols. 
These types can be further classified as mid and close range 
weapons (rifles) and close combat weapons (grenades, bayo- 
nets, carbines and pistols). Except in dense woods or other- 
wise where observation or fields of fire are restricted, the 
company will be disposed to make the most effective use of 
the mid and close range weapons. (Fig. 33.) The rifles and 
automatic rifles will be employed to supplement and thicken 
the fires of machine guns. In addition they will be sited to 
protect machine guns against hostile assault and to safeguard 
any other supporting weapons placed in the company's defen- 
sive area. 



R 03349 

b. In deciding upon the locations, strength and gar- 
risons of the platoon defense areas to be organized along the 
main line of resistance, the company commander is guided 
by the missions to be assigned each platoon. These missions 
will include all or part of the following: 

(1) Blocking by fire the approaches to the com- 
pany position. 

(2) Protection of machine guns, antitank guns and 
mortars in the vicinity. 

(3) Covering dead spaces not covered by support- 
ing weapons. 

(4) Providing mutual support by fire between ad- 
jacent units not only within the company, but also with 
adjacent companies. 

136. Interior Defense of the Position. — a. Depth. — The 

organization in depth will ordinarily commence with the front- 
line rifle company. The company commander assigns sections 
of the company defense area to his rifle platoons and points 
out the exact course of the main line of resistance to the 
rifle platoon leaders. He usually reinforces each rifle platoon 
with an additional automatic rifle and frequently with a light 
mortar. He prescribes the intrenchments to be constructed, 
makes allotment of special tasks, fixes priorities and indi- 
cates the time available. He fixes the conditions for open- 
ing fire and for calling for final protective fires (light sig- 
nal). Where necessary, he details security detachments 
for flank protection on the boundary of his defensive area. 
He confers with commanders of heavy machine-gun units and 
gives rifle platoon leaders the necessary instructions for cover- 
ing gaps in the bands of machine-gun fire. (The positions and 
sector of fire of the light machine guns are prescribed by the 
battalion commander and will not be altered without his 

Long-range fires are executed by the heavy weapons. 
Premature opening of fire by rifle companies discloses the 
defensive dispositions and exposes the troops holding the 
main position to the annihilating fire of the hostile artillery. 

137. Support Platoon.— Depending upon the terrain, the mis- 
sion, and the width of the sector to be defended, the company 
usually will dispose the equivalent of at least one platoon in 
rear of the main line of resistance. Such a unit is called a 
Support Platoon. Whether support platoons are held mobile 
for counterattack or employed to deepen the area defense 
depends principally upon the nature of the terrain of the com- 
pany defense area. In either case, support platoons are dis- 
posed so as best to insure the flank protection and antiaircraft 
defense of the combat echelon and deal with hostile elements 
penetrating the main line of resistance. When support pla- 
toons are employed to deepen the zone of resistance, squads 


are emplaced in a general checkerboard disposition with respect 
to those in the leading echelon, with a view to flanking platoons 
or squad groups of the leading echelon and covering the 
intervals between them. They are also prepared to cover the 
flanks of the company against flank attack. (Fig. 33.) For 
the execution of these various missions, the selection of alter- 
nate emplacements is generally necessary. A platoon held 
mobile for a counterattack mission is posted under cover 
beyond the zone of dispersion of artillery fire directed on the 
leading echelon. Pursuant to the instructions of the com- 
pany commander, the platoon leader prepares plans of action 
and selects departure positions for counterattack under various 
assumptions as to possible penetrations of the leading echelon. 

138. Outposts.- — The company commander details combat out- 
posts and fixes their day and night locations in accordance 
with the battalion commander's order. He prescribes their 
conduct in case of attack and fixes their lines of withdrawal. 
He informs platoon leaders and adjacent units as to their 
location. He details patrols for the night exploration of the 
foreground of his sector. He coordinates the illumination of 
the foreground with their activity. He makes periodic reports 
of his dispositions to the battalion commander. 

139. Antiaircraft and Antitank Warning Posts. — The compa- 
ny commander establishes antiaircraft and antitank warning 
posts within or serving his company defense area, and makes 
known the warning signals to his platoon leaders. He will 
also specify what personnel will be detailed to occupy these 
posts and from which platoons they are to be furnished. 

140. Company Command Post. — a. In his order the battalion 
commander frequently will designate the general location of 
the company command post. If he does not so designate it, 
he will direct that its location be reported. In the first case 
the company commander will select its site in the general 
location prescribed. In the second case he is at liberty to 
select a site within the company defensive area. 

b. A sheltered position is chosen, such as a ditch or 
ravine, or an easily located point in woods, where the com- 
mand post personnel will be protected from enemy small arms 
fire, and concealed from discovery by enemy patrols and air 
observers. Ordinarily the paramount considerations of con- 
trol and of accessibility to the elements of the company, cause 
it to be placed in the rear part of the company defensive area 
and in close proximity to the company support. 

c. Command post personnel will ordinarily consist of 
the second-in-command, the first sergeant, the company mes- 
sengers, less one messenger (field music) on duty at the 
battalion command post or at the company observation post, 
and the messengers from the platoons. 


141. Company Observation Post. — a. The company observa- 
tion post should be established relatively close to the com- 
mand post. The observation post should afford a view of 
the company defensive area or the greater portion of it, and 
the ground to the front as far as the position of the company 
local security. Cover and concealment are desirable, as dis- 
covery by the enemy will draw early fire. If there is no 
natural protected route to the command post, a covered 
approach should be dug. 

b. The observation post is manned initially by signal- 
men and messengers. While the defensive battle is in pro- 
gress, and while not visiting his units or away on other duty, 
the company commander will station himself at the observa- 
tion post. He will have at least one additional messenger 
with him. 

142. Priority of Work. — a. Ordinarily the priority of work 
on the position will be prescribed by the higher commander, 
and will be communicated to the rifle company commander in 
the battalion commander's defense order. So much of this 
priority as is applicable to the rifle company will be repeated 
in the rifle company commander's defense order. 

b. When no priority of work is prescribed in the bat- 
talion commander's order, the rifle company commander will 
prescribe the priority of the work to be undertaken by his 
units. This priority will always prescribe the clearing of 
fields of fire, and the preparation and camouflage of individual 
fox-holes, and of shallow communicating trenches. Depend- 
ing upon the needs of the situation and the time available, 
the priority may prescribe also the construction and camou- 
flage of supplementary rifle squad positions, erection of wire 
entanglements, and the improvement of natural antitank 

143. Reserve Company. — As the battalion reserve company 
will be disposed for the close defense of the battalion key 
point (the battalion keypoint is that commanding ground 
within the battalion defensive area which gives to the defender 
both observation and field of fire over the remainder of the 
battalion sector) , its dispositions may be prescribed in greater 
detail by the battalion commander than those of a front-line 
company. In general, the plan of defense of a reserve com- 
pany will differ from that of a front-line company in the fol- 
lowing particulars: 

a. Except for one or more sentinels or observers local 
security will not be required. However, the company may 
be required to furnish a combat outpost in front of the bat- 
talion position. 

b. The reserve company frequently will be employed 
initially in placing wire and antitank mines and extending or 
improving natural obstacles to mechanized attack. 


c. Weapons may be disposed to support the defense 
of the forward area by firing into the intervals between the 
platoon defense areas of front-line companies. 

d. Supporting weapons and platoons will be sited to 
block approaches from the flanks and rear of the battalion 

e. Should the reserve company be assigned a position 
on a reverse slope it organizes the position similar to that of 
a reserve company on a forward slope. While the company 
may be assembled in a protected area following the organiza- 
tion of the position, it should occupy its prepared position 
when the hostile attack develops. 

f . Whether the reserve company is assigned a position 
on a reverse or forward slope, it always prepares plans for 
counterattacks to restore the main line of resistance. Direc- 
tions to prepare counterattack plans usually will be prescribed 
in the battalion defense order. If not so prescribed the reserve 
company commander on his own initiative will prepare plans 
for such counterattacks. The company may be held mobile 
for counterattack. The company commander then assigns 
positions in readiness under cover from fire and observation 
to rifle platoons. He prepares plans of action under various 
assumptions of hostile penetration of the principal zone of 
resistance and assigns alternative assembly positions to his 
platoons. Where practicable, he locates provisional bases of 
fire to support the counterattacks. Light machine guns are 
usually assigned positions on the flanks of the assembly posi- 
tions of the rifle platoons for the support of prospective 
counterattacks. Where, as the result of terrain conditions, 
it appears necessary to distribute the rifle platoons over the 
battalion defense area with wide intervals between the pla- 
toons, the best position for the light machine guns is frequently 
in the interval. In this case the 60mm mortar squads are 
frequently attached to rifle platoons ; in other situations they 
are held under the immediate direction of the company com- 

g. It is to be expected that details from the reserve 
company will normally be used for additional labor purposes 
such as carrying parties for ammunition, food and other supply 
items. Other normal uses of the reserve company are to erect 
tactical obstacles (wire) in front of the battalion position to 
supplement the work of the engineers in maintaining com- 
munication routes within the battalion position, and to per- 
form other necessary tasks of a like nature. Such employ- 
ment of members of the reserve company imposes upon the 
reserve company commander the additional mission of main- 
taining liaison with and control over such details in order 
that the reserve company may immediately occupy and defend 
its assigned area, or carry out any other plan allotted in the 
battalion scheme of defense. 


144. Supply of Ammunition. — a. Usually, battalion or higher 
orders will prescribe that the initial supply of extra ammuni- 
tion shall be dumped on the position. Each company com- 
mander and platoon commander will exercise careful control 
of the distribution of such ammunition, alloting to the ele- 
ments of his command sufficient for their probable needs. 
During battle the supply of ammunition to combat groups on 
the main line of resistance may be difficult and hazardous. 
Such groups should be required to maintain upon position 
an adequate stowed ammunition reserve under the control of 
the platoon commander. Expenditures are replaced at night 
or as opportunity allows. 

b. The company commander must at all times know 
the status of ammunition within his company and within its 
subdivisions, and he should require his platoon commanders 
to inspect and report concerning the ammunition on hand 
within their own units. The ammunition of evacuated cas- 
ualties is normally left on the position. The platoon com- 
mander must inspect to see that all rifle belts and automatic 
rifle magazines are filled and that all extra ammunition on 
position is stowed as to be protected from weather and is 
available for immediate use. 

145. Food and Water.— The supply of food and water to his 
men will present a difficult problem to the company commander, 
the solution of which will require ingenuity and resolution. 
The morale of troops decreases as their thirst and hunger 
increases, and the resisting power of men with low morale 
is slight. The administrative duties of the company com- 
mander and the platoon leader include making provisions 
for an adequate supply of water for each individual of the 
company and combat group and arrangements for the feeding 
of all men. Whether the food is obtained from the company 
kitchen or from further to the rear makes little difference in 
feeding. The task of the company commander is to find out 
when and where food and water will be available to his com- 
pany, and to disseminate this information to his platoon lead- 
ers in the form of orders as to when, where, and how the com- 
pany will be messed. It is the platoon leader's task to dis- 
seminate this information to his men and make the necessary 
details to insure that the order of the company commander 
is carried out. Against an active enemy whose air force is 
comparable to our own, it will probably be best to use carry- 
ing parties to bring all food and water forward during the 
hours of darkness. The carrying parties meet the truck, 
obtain the food in the rear area, eat their own meal, fill the 
canteens of the company and then bring forward the filled 
canteens and the food containers for the remainder of the 
platoon. A cold lunch is usually issued with the hot breakfast 
to avoid daylight distribution. Containers are returned as 
soon as empty. 


146. Delaying Action. — Delaying action is executed through 
the occupation of successive defensive positions preferably 
covered by an antitank obstacle and affording long field of 
fire with a view to arresting or delaying a hostile advance for 
a more or less determinate period. The company generally 
holds a wide front. Platoon leaders exercise a wide degree 
of initiative. Light mortars are usually attached to rifle 
platoons. The company commander retains control over the 
light machine guns. 

The automatic rifles carry the burden of the fire fight 
of the rifle platoons. They open fire at long-range. 

One rifle platoon, in second echelon, usually occupies 
the position selected for the next line of resistance or an 
intermediate position between two successive lines of resist- 

The withdrawal of the combat echelon is preferably 
effected successively by platoons. The company commander 
uses his light machine guns to cover the gap created by the 
withdrawal of a platoon usually from positions behind a re- 
maining platoon. They withdraw in time to occupy positions 
for the support of the withdrawal of the last rifle element. 

Heavy (cal. .30) machine guns and battalion antitank 
weapons are frequently attached to rifle companies to sup- 
port their withdrawal. The caliber .30 machine guns carry 
on the long-range combat from positions in rear of the rifle 
company. The antitank weapons open fire at the earliest 
moment and promises effect against the type of hostile tank 

The company commander regulates the withdrawal of 
the rifle platoons either by fixing the hour of withdrawal or 
by specifying the line to be reached by hostile forces before 
the withdrawal commences. He coordinates the withdrawal 
of the light and heavy machine guns with that of the rifle 
platoons so as to assure continuous fire support and covering 

Operations in withdrawal observe, as nearly as prac- 
ticable, the following sequence: 

(a) Establishment of a rifle platoon in second eche- 
lon on next position of resistance. 

(b) Withdrawal of one platoon of the combat 

(c) Withdrawal of heavy machine guns on carts. 

(d) Withdrawal of light machine guns and light 

(e) Withdrawal of rifle squads of last platoon, the 
antitank weapons, and the automatic rifle squads. 

On open terrain, the automatic weapons are the prin- 
cipal fire agencies of withdrawing forces. The rifle squads 
are held under cover. They are utilized for flank protection 


and to furnish reconnoitering patrols and combat outposts 
where required. In wooded or close terrain or in fog, they 
form the principal fire elements of the company. 

The company commander institutes early reconnais- 
sance of successive positions and routes of withdrawal. 

147. Support of an Outpost. — A rifle company detailed as sup- 
port of an outpost is assigned a section of the outpost line of 
resistance and a sector of surveillance. The position to be 
occupied by the company is also sometimes specified. Within 
its assigned section, the company organizes a company defense 
area and covers the unoccupied interval of its section with the 
flanking fire of its light machine guns. Attached heavy 
machine guns are emplaced for long-range fire of the ap- 
proaches to the position. They are assigned alternate positions 
for reinforcing the flanking fire of the light machine guns. 
Attached antitank weapons are sited to cover the most 
probable routes of tank approach. 

The company covers its front with outguards and 
patrols. Outguards, not exceeding the strength of one squad, 
occupy day positions, usually within 400 yards of the forward 
limits of the company defense area, affording the most exten- 
sive views over the foreground of the outpost position; at 
night they are posted so as to cover the most probable routes 
of hostile advance. Stronger outguards (detached posts) are 
detailed to hold more distance features such as stream cross- 
ings, villages, important road junctions. Communication with 
adjacent supports and between outguards is maintained by 
means of visiting patrols. Patrols are also dispatched for 
daylight observation from commanding terrain beyond the 
vision of outguards on the outpost line of observation. 

The company covers the unoccupied interval of its 
section of the outpost position wherever practicable by ob- 
stacles. Intensive night patrolling of gaps is essential. The 
effectiveness of observation of the foreground and the interior 
of the position may be increased by illumination where it is 
not important to conceal the presence of the troops in the 
locality or the location of the outpost. 

The combat of the company takes place in accordance 
with the procedure prescribed for the defensive action of a 
company holding a wide front. 

A support company moves to its assigned area with 
due provision for security. It conceals its movement as far 
as practicable from air and ground observation. A march 
outpost covers the initial installation of the company on its 
support position until its definite dispositions have been made. 

In the prolonged occupation of a position, the disposi- 
tions and conduct of a front-line company may approach 
those prescribed for security in position defense. 


148. Security in Position Defense. — Prolonged occupations of 
defensive positions permit the development of a highly organ- 
ized service of security and observation. The organization of 
this service may comprise: guard service of the position; 
observation posts; night patrols in front of the accessory 
defenses; snipers' posts. 

149. Guard Service. — The front-line platoons are the princi- 
pal agencies of the guard service of the position. They 
furnish sentry posts and outguards. Units in rearward eche- 
lons establish such sentries as are necessary to insure their 
own readiness for action. At least one sentry for each shelter 
is posted. 

a. One officer in each company and one noncommis- 
sioned officer in each platoon are constantly on duty. They 
are responsible to their respective commanders for the service 
of security of their units. They make frequent inspections 
to assure themselves of the vigilance of the sentries and 
observers and their proper instruction. 

b. The noncommissioned officer on guard insures that 
sentries are alert with rifles loaded and that gas-alarm appa- 
ratus is in readiness. He verifies the orders which sentries 
transmit to each other. He informs them concerning the time 
of departure and return of patrols and their itinerary. He 
verifies the condition of loopholes. He is provided with means 
of artificial illumination and fires it if suspicious noises are 
heard. He reports to the officer on duty and to his platoon 
leader all incidents of his tour and the arrival of a superior 

c. Sentries may be posted directly from the first-line 
platoons by the noncommissioned officer on guard or by the 
leader of an outguard. Each sentry must be informed as to 
the location of his platoon leader and that of the sentries on 
each side of him and as to whether there are friendly patrols 
or working parties in front. All sentries are instructed as to 
the method of giving the gas alarm or tank alarm. At night 
sentries are posted at the entrance to all shelters to arouse 
the occupants in case of attack. They are similarly posted 
during a hostile bombardment to give warning when the 
enemy debouches for attack. Sentries make as little noise as 
possible in challenging and advancing parties. During the 
day they observe through loopholes or by means of a peri- 
scope; at night they observe over the parapet. Listening 
posts are advanced sentry posts (usually four men) established 
at night to warn the front-line platoons of the approach of 
hostile raiding or attacking parties. They fall back after 
giving the alarm. Sentries are relieved every 2 hours except 
under unusual conditions. A larger number of sentries is 
required at night than during the day. The primary duty of 
sentries is to insure the readiness of the command in case of 


150. Observation. — a. Each platoon and company conducts 
intensive observation to gather information relative to the 
enemy and to give prompt alarm in case of attack. Each 
commander establishes an observation post near his command 
post and when necessary locates other posts so as to insure 
that the entire sector of the unit is under continuous obser- 

b. Observation posts are not located near conspicuous 
points of the terrain. The posts and the passages leading to 
them are carefully concealed and camouflaged. Men are pro- 
hibited from walking about in their vicinity. The formation 
of paths converging at a post are particularly avoided. 

c. Each platoon usually employs 4 to 6 men as ob- 
servers. They alternate on duty to insure continuity of 

(1) The observer should be particularly on the 
lookout in respect to — 

Location of hostile automatic weapons or 

Enemy sentries and snipers or points where the 

enemy indicates his presence. 
Hostile observation posts, loopholes, occupied 

areas, dugouts, new wire, gaps in wire, 

tracks of patrols through wire. 
Indications of location of antitank mines. 
Mining : signs of soil excavated and materials 


(2) Patient, attentive observation always gives 
valuable information about the enemy's customs. The least 
change in the enemy lines or dispositions are reported to the 
officer or noncommissioned officer on duty. 

(3) In case of attack the observers give the alarm 
by the means at hand. Observers in rearward echelons repeat 
signals from the front line. 

151. Night Patrols. — a. Observation is supplemented during 
the night by the reconnaissance of patrols detailed by the 
company or battalion commander. The missions of night 
patrols may be to gain information, to capture prisoners, or 
to harass the enemy. Such patrols are always assigned a 
definite mission. The officer sending out the patrol determines 
the time and point at which it leaves the lines, the route, and 
the probable time of return. 

b. Night patrolling is systematically organized. For 
troops just commencing the occupation of a stabilized sector 
the reconnaissance should embrace: The accessory defenses 
in front of the position ; shell craters and old trenches between 
the position and that of the enemy ; and the hostile wire and 
listening posts. 


(1) Reconnaissance of our own wire is carried out 
to ascertain its condition and to locate gaps for the purpose of 
entry and exit. 

(2) Shell craters and old trenches are next recon- 
noitered to determine whether they are occupied by the enemy 
and if so, the strength of the post, the state of wire protection, 
and the practicability of raiding the post. 

(3) Reconnaissance of the hostile wire usually 
seeks to determine — 

Strength, height, depth, thickness, or density 

of wire, nature of construction and number 

of bands. 
Distance from inner band to hostile front line ; 

distance between bands of wire. 
Gaps, location, width, whether left purposely 

by enemy or cut by friendly fire. 
Effect of our recent gun or mortar fire. 
Location and nature of antitank mines. 

152. Sniping. — a. Fire for the purpose of wearing the ene- 
my down is organized by company and platoon commanders. 
In the execution of harassing fire, observers and snipers fre- 
quently work together, the observer indicating the targets 
discovered to the sniper and observing the results of his 
fire. Sniping posts are located and sectors of fire assigned 
to each post so that the entire front is covered. 

b. Sniping fire is usually delivered from specially con- 
structed posts. Concealment is the most important element 
in the construction of the posts and may be attained by the 
adaptation of various objects, such as an old boot with a 
loophole cut in the heel, spool of barbed wire, a dummy sand- 
bag, or tree stump. Background is given careful considera- 
tion. A curtain is provided for darkening the entrance. 

c. Snipers are protected by the use of camouflaged 
clothing and disguises improvised by using grass or leaves, 
smearing the hands, face, and equipment to harmonize with 

d. Smoking is prohibited in the post ; glittering objects 
are kept out of sight; the rifle barrel does not protrude far 
beyond the loophole; and care is taken that the muzzle blast 
does not kick up dust and betray the location of the firer. 

e. Targets are usually most numerous at dusk or in 
the early morning. The sniper is at a disadvantage if facing 
the sun. If possible he selects the time for firing when the 
light is full on the ground where the targets are expected and 
he himself is in a comparatively bad light. 

f . Provision is made for night sniping. The rifle may 
be laid and clamped on selected objectives (gaps in the hostile 
wire which probably will be repaired at night, loopholes, 


entrances to shelters, exposed points in approach trenches, 
machine guns spotted by their flashes). Provision is made 
for night firing with the rifle not clamped by the improvisa- 
tion of a visible line of sights or the use of telescopic sights. 
With a bright moon, effective fire at a range of 200 yards can 
be delivered with the telescopic sight. A line of sight may be 
improvised by attaching a piece of white cotton to the front 
sight and a strip of white tape along the barrel from the 
front to rear sight, and by pasting to the rear sight a piece 
of white cardboard with a hole punched in the center. An 
effective range of 30 to 50 yards may be obtained by using 
these aids. 

g. Sniping fire may be used in conjunction with the 
operation of patrols to distract the attention of hostile sentries 
at the point to be reconnoitered. 

h. To draw targets or locate hostile snipers, some sort 
of decoy may be successfully employed. Effort should be 
made to locate the direction from which the hostile sniping 
comes. Any casualty from rifle fire should be reported and 
investigated and special efforts made to locate the hostile 






153. The AA-AT Platoon, Weapons Company, Infantry Bat- 
talion, Composition and Armament. — The AA-AT Platoon is 
a unit of the Weapons Company of the Infantry Battalion and 
consists of — 

a. A Platoon Headquar- 

b. 2 20mm AA-AT Gun 

c. 1 Ammunition Squad. 
The Platoon Headquarters 

consists of a Lieutenant Platoon 
Leader, a Platoon Sergeant sec- 
ond-in-command, a Sergeant ob- 
server and 2 privates who serve 
as messengers and signalmen. 
The privates are armed with the 
rifle and the others with the 
pistol or carbine. 

The Gun Squad has a Corpo- 
ral as Squad Leader, a gunner, 
an assistant gunner and an extra 
private, with such additional 
personnel from the Ammunition 

Squad as may be detailed. The Corporal and Gunners are 
armed with the pistol or carbine and the others with the 
rifle. (Fig. 34.) 





CAL. 30.M-I 

20mm, AA-AT 



fiD 3B49 


The Antitank Squad (cal. .50 machine gun with antitank mount only) 

The Ammunition Squad consists of a Corporal Squad 
Leader and 10 privates who handle the ammunition and other 
supplies of the platoon. Men from this squad may be detail- 
ed to assist with the handling of the guns. 

While the current Tables of Organization call for a 
20mm AA-AT gun for each squad, at this writing this type 
piece has not been issued. In its place each squad has a cal. 
.50 Machine-Gun with antitank mount only, making it neces- 
sary to depend upon the cal. .30 heavy machine guns of the 
Machine Gun Platoons for anti-aircraft defense. The Platoon, 
therefore, must function as an antitank platoon only until the 
dual purpose 20mm gun is furnished. 

154. General. — The AA-AT Platoon is included in the compo- 
sition of the Weapons Company for the purposes of supply, 
administration and technical training only. The tactical 
missions of the platoon are assigned by the battalion comman- 
der and are executed under his immediate direction or of the 
commander of the unit at whose disposition it may be placed 
by the battalion commander. 


155. Characteristics and Missions. — The battalion antitank 
weapons (cal. .50 machine gun) has the following characteris- 

a. High initial velocity. 

b. Adequate armor penetration at close and midrange. 

c. High rate of fire. 

d. High mobility and low relief relative to other anti- 
tank weapons, permitting movement by manhandling for 
considerable distances and facilitating unobstrusive occupa- 
tion of firing position; weapon and crew occupy a small area 
and are easily concealed. 

The characteristics of this weapon indicate employment 
in close proximity to the troops to be defended. It employs 
direct fire and engages ground targets only. It will frequently 
be the principal reliance of the troops for immediate antitank 

Three men are required to keep one weapon in opera- 
tion. All members of the squad are trained to handle the 
weapon and replacements of casualties is automatic. 

The Platoon leader functions under the company com- 
mander until detached by assignment of a tactical mission by 
the battalion commander. Further coordination by the com- 
pany commander is limited to arrangements for rationing and 
other administrative matters. 

In combat, the platoon leader, whenever practicable, 
assigns sectors of fire and firing position areas ; where exten- 
sive fronts must be covered he assigns the guns missions of 
providing antitank security for designated rifle companies. 

In combat, the squad leader may exercise the functions 
of fire control in all cases where the squad is assigned a sector 
of fire or the protection of a designated rifle company by the 
platoon leader. When the platoon leader assigns each gun a 
sector of fire, the platoon sergeant supervises the operation of 
both squads, if practicable, or accompanies the squad assigned 
the most important or most difficult mission. 

The squad leader is responsible for the execution of 
the fire orders of the platoon leader and the fire discipline of 
the squad. When assigned an approximate position by the 
platoon leader, he fixes the exact location and directs the 
preparation and occupation of the gun position, camouflage 
and intrenchment where required, and the movement of the 
gun into position. Before beginning the construction of an 
emplacement, he places the gun in an emergency firing posi- 
tion, prepared to cover the assigned sector of fire. He details 

*NOTE: The status of developments in the design of antitank weapons 
of the lighter class makes it impracticable to give more than 
the general characteristics of the battalion weapon at this 


one member of the squad to maintain surveillance over his 
fire sector and to man the gun if emergency requires. Upon 
completion of the preparation of the emplacement and clear- 
ing of the field of fire, the corporal causes the gun to be mount- 
ed for the execution of its assigned mission. 

156. Antitank Positions. — The mission of the antitank guns 
in defense being the protection of the battalion defense area 
against enemy tanks, the guns are sited to take tank attack 
under fire before it reaches the main line of resistance. There 
being only two guns, they are not distributed in depth, but 
are placed on or close to the main line of resistance. They are 
sited in pairs and are mutually supporting. Rifle or machine- 
gun units are assigned to protect the guns. When employed in 
pairs, each piece is so emplaced as to cover the sector assigned 
to the other in addition to its own. In view of their limitation 
to close and midrange missions they should, when practicable, 
be emplaced near the center of the sector of fire. (Fig. 35.) 


'-- : 


■:■:;•■ ■' 

ft J 334$ 

The requirements of a good position are: 

a. Good field of fire. It is desirable for the field of fire 
to extend up to the effective range of the gun. 

b. Proximity to defilade and concealment of gun and 

c. Commanding ground with wide sector of fire. 

d. Covered routes of approach for the occupation of 
the position. 

The antitank guns may occupy primary, alternate, or 
supplementary positions. 

A primary position is the position initially occupied 
and from which the mission can best be accomplished. 

An alternate position is a position having the same 
field of fire as the primary position but located at a sufficient 
distance from the primary position to avoid artillery fire di- 
rected at that position. An alternate position should be at 
least 50 yards from the primary position. 

The limited number of antitank guns available for the 
defense of the battalion area makes it necessary to select 
supplementary positions. A supplementary position is one 
from which a mission can be executed that cannot be executed 
from the primary position. A supplementary position should 
be as close to the primary position as the terrain permits. 

Alternate and supplementary positions should be select- 
ed by the platoon leader, but if they are not selected by him 
they will be selected by the squad leader. Movement to the 
alternate position is caused by an emergency, and the leader 
at the gun position must decide when the movement is to be 
made. Movement to supplementary positions is made on 
orders of the platoon leader. 

The gun emplacements should be separated by sufficient 
distance to insure against simultaneous destruction by a single 
projectile but close enough in each section to permit of effec- 
tive control by the platoon leader. Movement to alternate 
positions is usually impracticable during hostile attack. Alter- 
nate emplacements are necessary in the prolonged occupation 
of a defensive position to avoid early identification and annihi- 
lation by the enemy's preparatory fires. Where the weapons 
have been firing from primary emplacements, advantage is 
taken of lulls in the hostile attack to move to alternate 

157. Selection of Position.— The antitank guns should be 
placed in positions from which they can protect the main line 
of resistance from mechanized attacks. However, due to 
difficulty of emplacing and concealing the gun in position and 
the unquestionable fact that the enemy will make every effort 
to locate and destroy every antitank weapon before a tank 
attack, these should not be placed in the forward areas unless 


cover and concealment is available. When employed on 
favorable terrain in this vicinity their fire will still be effective 
in front of the main line of resistance. The most effective 
range of an antitank gun is from 600 yards down. 

158. Reconnaissance for Antitank Positions. — A thorough 
reconnaissance of the entire battalion defense area should be 
made by the AA-AT platoon leader before assigning primary 
and alternate positions for his weapons. This reconnaissance 
will be found to be invaluable not only for selecting the best 
positions but also for eliminating those areas where the ter- 
rain is such as to preclude tank employment. 

159. Coordination of Antitank Defense. — When antitank 
positions have been selected by the platoon leader and 
approved by the battalion commander, the guns are emplaced 
and sectors of fire staked out. The locations of the guns, with 
their sectors of fire, are then recorded on an overlay or map 
turned in to Bn-3, who places the information on his situation 
map, thus consolidating it into the antimechanized defense 

(The entire regimental antimechanized defense plan 
will coordinate the actions of the antitank rifles, the cal. .50 
machine guns or 20mm AA-AT guns, the 37mm antitank guns 
and the 75mm antitank guns. These weapons will be disposed 
in depth generally in the order stated.) 

The battalion commander will normally inform the AA- 
AT platoon leader which of the possible avenues of a mecha- 
nized approach must be covered by the fire of the antitank 
guns, and of the most probable direction of enemy tank attack. 

When there are not sufficient antitank weapons avail- 
able to cover the entire battalion sector, the battalion com- 
mander must decide where he wants his antitank protection. 
In such cases a choice must be made between two methods: 

a. Cover the most probable avenue of hostile tank 
approach; or 

b. Protect the most important defensive installation 
or key point. 

160. Methods of Strengthening the Antitank Defense. — Al- 
though only two antitank guns are available for use in an 
entire battalion defense area, thought and careful planning 
may greatly enhance the natural strength of the defense. A 
few examples are given below: 

a. When two companies are employed on the main line 
of resistance and the terrain in front and on the flank of one 
of the companies is such as to preclude tank operations in that 
area, the guns can be placed in the other company defense area, 
thereby increasing the density of the antitank defense in the 
vulnerable area. 


b. Some natural avenues of hostile tank approach may 
be eliminated entirely by the judicious use of land mines, arti- 
ficial obstacles, tank traps, and standing artillery barrages. 

c. Where all of the terrain in the vicinity of the battal- 
ion area is suitable for tank operations, an attempt can be 
made to canalize the hostile tank attack. By this is meant the 
blocking of most of the tank approaches by means of tank 
traps, mines, barriers, obstacles, and standing barrages, thus 
forcing the hostile tanks to attack through one or two rela- 
tively narrow corridors. When this method is used, the anti- 
tank weapons are so emplaced that the bulk of their fires 
cover these artificially formed narrow avenues of approach. 

While only a limited amount of obstacle construction 
could be accomplished by the personnel of the AA-AT Platoon, 
the platoon leader should be prepared to recommend to the 
Battalion Commander the location of mine fields and obstacles 
and the fires necessary to cover them. 

161. Action Preceding and During Hostile Attack. — Prior to 

the hostile attack the state of readiness for the gun may be as 
follows : 

a. In position ready to fire instantly. 

b. In a position of readiness near a prepared position. 
The gun is prepared for firing, but held in defilade under cover 
ready to be moved to the prepared position. 

Usually the antitank guns within the battalion defense 
area will be placed in sight defilade in their positions ready to 
fire. The guns may be held in a position of readiness concealed 
within a few yards of their firing positions. These methods 
are dictated by the rapidity of the development of a tank 
attack ; and the probability that the tank attack will reach the 
forward gun positions before the guns can be moved any 
appreciable distance and be prepared to fire. To be most effec- 
tive the antitank guns should be able to engage the tanks at 
all ranges under 600 yards. In the average situation the 
attacking tank unit will usually not be seen and may not be 
heard until within 600 yards. Under these conditions it is 
better to have the forward guns in position lightly camou- 
flaged; rather than to attempt to employ the methods of 
mobile antitank support used by higher units. 

In order to avoid disclosing the positions of the guns 
they remain silent until suitable targets appear within effec- 
tive range, then they open with rapid continuous fire until the 
hostile vehicles are destroyed or withdraw. Then immediate 
movement to cover in the vicinity of an alternate position is 
recommended, because once the antitank guns open fire they 
will draw enemy fire. 


Employment at night is limited both for the cal. .50 
machine guns and their targets. Being direct fire weapons, 
fire depends upon visibility; likewise, tanks must have visi- 
bility to operate successfully. 

162. Fire Direction and Control. — In most situations the pla- 
toon is the fire unit. The principal factors determining the 
echelon of command exercising the functions of fire direction 
and control over antitank units are the frontage to be defend- 
ed, the nature of the terrain and the extent to which the posi- 
tion is covered by antitank obstacles. 

A pair of antitank weapons is theoretically capable of 
defending, from closely adjoining emplacements, an unob- 
structed front determined by the effective antitank range. If 
a greater frontage is to be covered, the emplacements must be 
separated by a distance depending on the excess frontage. In 
such cases fire control is exercised by squad leaders. The pla- 
toon leader directs the fire of the weapons by the assignment 
of approximate positions and sectors of fire. 

Where the frontage to be covered permits, antitank 
weapons are habitually emplaced in pairs. Such employment 
offers the best practicable assurance that the loss or malfunc- 
tion of a single weapon will not completely deprive a sector of 
its antitank defense. The platoon leader assigns primary and 
secondary sectors of fire to the antitank weapons, designates 
the off-carrier position and fixes the conditions for opening 

Obstructions in the fields of fire may require widely 
separated emplacements and squad fire control, even where 
frontage would not exclude employment in pairs. 

The commander exercising fire control locates reference 
points extending over his entire sector and making the limits 
of effective fire of the battalion antitank weapons (variable 
limits depending on the type of enemy tank) . These reference 
points delimit a zone beyond which a target will not be taken 
under fire. In a delaying action, wider limits may be assigned 
for fire on armored or scout cars and other similarly armored 

Range cards are prepared by each gun commander 
immediately on occupation of a position. These cards will 
indicate the prominent landmarks within the sector of fire, 
with ranges accurately marked, so that effective fire may be 
immediately brought to bear on any target appearing in the 
sector of fire that is within range. 

163. Warning Measures. — In addition to the tactical employ- 
ment of his AA-AT platoon, the platoon leader will probably 
find that he will be called upon for recommendations by the 
battalion commander and assistance in coordinating certain 
details of the battalion defensive fires. Being concerned with 
antiaircraft and antitank protection for the battalion, he will 


be prepared at all times to recommend the warning measures 
necessary to secure the battalion against surprise attack. 
These measures involve principally the posting of AA and AT 
guards. The gun crews must be constantly on the alert and 
at least one member of each squad detailed to keep watch for 
the approach of hostile aircraft or tanks. The limited person- 
nel of the platoon, however, precludes their use as air or anti- 
tank guards at any great distance from their weapons. It 
will be necessary, therefore, that air guards be detailed by 
other units of the Battalion, and the AA-AT platoon leader 
should be prepared to make the necessary recommendations 
for the posting and coordination of these guards. 

164. Ammunition Supply. — Many of the difficulties of am- 
munition supply in the attack, do not exist in defensive situa- 
tions. Usually a supply of ammunition and accessories can be 
stored in or near the gun position. 






165. The 81mm Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, Infan- 
try Battalion, Composition and Armament. — The 81mm Mor- 
tar Platoon is a unit of the Weapons Company of the Marine 
Infantry Battalion, and consists of — 

a. Platoon Headquar- 

b. 2 81mm Mortar Sec- 

The Platoon Headquarters 
consists of two lieutenants, the 
senior of whom is platoon leader 
and the other battalion gas 
officer (offensive chemical ac- 
tion), a gunnery sergeant, a 
signal corporal and 6 privates, 
two of whom are messengers 
and signalmen, one a telephone 
operator and three for other 

Each of the two mortar sec- 
tions consists of — 




In the 

Section Headquarters. 
2 81mm Mortar 





1 Ammunition Squad. 

Section Headquarters there are a Platoon Sergeant 
who is Section Chief, a Sergeant Observer and three privates, 
two of whom are linemen and one a telephone operator. 

The Mortar Squad consists of a Corporal Squad leader 
and 5 privates, one of whom is gunner, one assistant gunner 
and three for ammunition and supply. (Fig. 36.) 


RD 334-9 

The 81mm Mortar Squad 

Each Mortar Squad is equipped with an 81mm Mortar, 
making a total of 4 mortars to the Platoon. 

The Ammunition Squad consists of one Sergeant, who 
is in charge of the Squad and of the ammunition supply and 
who also serves as Gas Noncommissioned officer of the Bat- 
talion; 2 Corporals and 13 privates. 

Of the 76 officers and men of the Platoon, 21 are armed 
with the pistol or carbine, 47 with the rifle and 8 with the 
automatic rifle. Two of the automatic rifles are issued to the 
Ammunition Squad and one to each Mortar Squad. 

166. General. — While, as hereinbefore explained, the A A- AT 
Platoon operates tactically directly under the Battalion Com- 
mander, the Weapons Company commander retains tactical 
control of all 3 machine-gun platoons and the 81mm Mortar 

For the Mortar Platoon, whenever practicable, the 
weapons company commander designates the target areas 
and fixes conditions for opening fire. When as the result of 
restricted visibility or unusual extension of the battalion front, 
the fire of the mortars cannot be directed by the weapons 
company commander, the battalion commander attaches the 
mortars either by squad or by section to one or more rifle 


companies of the forward echelon. In such case the rifle com- 
pany commander directs the fire of the 81mm mortar as 
prescribed for the 60mm mortar. 

167. Characteristics of 81mm Mortar. — The 81mm Mortar 
combines mobility and power in greater degree than any other 
supporting infantry weapon. It can be man-handled for 
considerable distances without causing excessive fatigue to 
the crew. 

The mortar fires two types of high explosive shell, the 
light (7 lbs. 3 oz.) with a maximum range of 3,280 yards and 
the heavy (15 lbs. 12 oz.) with a maximum range of 1,280 
yards. These shells have an explosive effect comparable to 
75mm and 155mm projectiles, respectively, (15 yards radius 
for the light shell and 30 yards radius for the heavy) . Under 
normal conditions the usual effective range at which good 
results can be obtained is about 2,000 yards. Range is limited 
by the requirements of observation rather than the ballistic 
properties of the piece. At the longer ranges, accuracy of 
fire is greatly decreased. Due to its high-angle trajectory, 
the mortar is capable of taking advantage of deep defilade and 
of exercising a wide choice in the selection of positions. It is 
habitually fired from masked positions. When under battalion 
control, it is normally emplaced in a zone extending from 300 
to 800 yards in rear of the forward troops. 

The mortar also fires a smoke shell which is used to lay 
down a screen or to blind observation at a particular locality 
in enemy territory. The smoke shell has the same range as 
the heavy shell. 

168. Duties of Leaders.— The platoon leader maintains con- 
tact with the company commander at all times in combat, 
receives from him his fire missions, and in the proper case 
makes recommendation for the employment of the mortars. 
He familiarizes himself and his platoon with the plan of de- 
fense of the sector. 

He assigns fire missions for each mortar. 

He selects principal, alternate, and supplementary posi- 
tions for the mortars or sections together with observation 

He causes firing data to be computed and range cards 

He prepares an overlay showing numbered target areas 
and sends it to the battalion command post. 

He assures himself that each section and squad is 
familiar with the various firing positions and observation 
posts and that it can quickly occupy the positions. 

He instructs the personnel of the platoon as to the 
details of the terrain and informs them of the location of the 
various units in the sector and the headquarters of each, the 
aid station, and ammunition distributing point. 


He orders a priority of work to be executed by the 
elements of the platoon in organizing the position. 

The section leader reconnoiters the position area assign- 
ed and indicates the approximate position for each mortar em- 
placement. He locates observation points which will permit 
each squad leader to observe the target areas or sector of 
fire for his mortar. Usually one of the squad observation 
posts will serve for the section leader. Where adequate obser- 
vation near the mortar positions is not available, the section 
leader may elect to control the fire of the section himself and 
establish observation posts for control of both mortars. 

The squad leader exercises the functions of fire control 
and establishes an observation post that will permit him to 
observe fire on the target and to transmit his commands to 
the crew by voice or arm-and-hand signals. He instructs the 
members of his squad in their duties and maintains fire disci- 
pline during action. When assigned an approximate position 
by the section leader, he fixes the exact location and directs 
the preparation of the emplacement (camouflage and intrench- 
ment where required) and the movement of the mortar into 
position. When the section or platoon leader conducts the fire 
of the squad, the squad leader is responsible for the proper 
execution of the orders of the leader controlling the fire and 
the exactness of the performance of duties by the mortar 

169. Missions in Defense. — The 81mm mortars are employed 
to cover dead spaces in the bands of machine-gun fire in ac- 
cordance with the battalion fire plan, and to fire on defiladed 
areas where hostile forces might assemble for attack. (Figs. 
24, 37.) These fires are coordinated with the barrage and 
counterpreparation fires of artillery. 


Each mortar is assigned primary and secondary targets. 
The primary target is the target included in the battalion final 
protective fires. Secondary targets are numbered (from right 
to left) and assigned priority. They are fired on command 
or signal. They may include targets in the sector of the battal- 
ion or in those of adjacent battalions. Targets in a lower 
priority may be engaged in emergency where no signal is 
received and no target in higher priority is presented. 

Additional typical missions and employment of the 81 
mm mortars in defense are: 

a. To fire on definitely located point targets defiladed 
from the fire of flat-trajectory weapons. 

b. To cover important approaches to the defense posi- 
tion especially those which are defiladed from flat-trajectory 
weapons. Such targets might be wooded stream lines, road 
cuts, draws, railroad embankments and reverse slopes. 

c. To fire on enemy supporting weapons which are 
definitely or approximately located. 

d. To fire in support of a counterattack to regain 
captured ground. 

e. A sector of fire may be assigned each mortar for 
fire on any targets appearing therein. 

f. Separate missions may be assigned each mortar 
and the fire missions assigned are coordinated with other 
defensive fires. 

g. Fires should not be placed closer than 200 yards to 
a friendly group. 

h. Area targets requiring zone fires are artillery tar- 
gets and should not be assigned mortars. 

i. The necessity of conserving ammunition demands 
careful discrimination of mortar targets from those pertaining 
to the machine guns on the one hand and the artillery on the 

j. Mortar fires are for the most part fires against per- 
sonnel. The heavy shell is employed in destruction fires 
against enemy shelters and accessory defenses. Smoke shell 
is used to lay down a screen or to blind observation at a parti- 
cular locality in enemy territory. 

k. In deciding upon the suitability of the target, the 
best rule to follow is to decide whether or not the target is 
important enough to justify the expenditure of the ammuni- 
tion, giving due consideration to the amount of ammunition 

170. Unsuitable Mortar Targets. — A few targets unsuited 
to mortar fire are: fast moving armored vehicles, enemy 
scouts, widely dispersed enemy infantry, and other enemy 


targets that are primarily suited to the other battalion 

171. Initial Reconnaissance.— On summons of the company 
commander, the platoon leader directs the gunnery sergeant 
to move the platoon to the march objective already designated 
or to a position in readiness, and then, accompanied by the 
instrument corporal, joins the company command group. He 
executes such reconnaissance as may be directed by the com- 
pany commander or as may be required as a basis for the 
organization of the defensive fire plan of the Battalion. He 
notes points of known or suspected hostile occupation, areas 
defiladed from the fire of flat-trajectory weapons, and the 
dispositions of friendly rifle elements. Based on this recon- 
naissance, he determines the method of occupation of his 
position area. 

172. Selection of Mortar Positions. — Terrain being suitable, 
the mortar sections are normally assigned to positions within 
the area occupied by the battalion of which they are a part. 
The platoon commander selects the specific area for the sec- 
tions and the section leaders select the actual mortar positions. 
Since the mortar is a high-angle-fire weapon, it should be 
placed in a well defiladed position in order to take advantage 

RO 3349 


81mm Mortar in firing position 


of this characteristic. (Fig. 38.) Lacking defiladed terrain 
the next best positions are in areas covered with small scrub 
growth. Sunken roads and old shell holes may be used 
advantageously. In extremely flat terrain devoid of cover, it 
may be necessary to dig large pits in which to place the 
mortars. (Fig. 39.) Mortar fire is much more effective when 
it is observed and adjusted. Selection of the mortar position 
near a good observation point is of paramount importance. In 
general a good mortar observation post should be as close 
as possible to the mortar position and as near to the line 
mortar-target as can be obtained. The establishment of 
telephonic communication will in some cases allow the use 
of good observation further to the front and rear. 

— V 

l'Ipl^>J . 


t : ': : 

/ *'"*«] 

/ "'\ 

/ : A j 

/i'.'" 4 '" 



enough Tav] I 

PREVENT '■'•\\\ 1 


5^0 »| 

R.D. H05-5 

Figure 39 

81mm Mortar emplacement 

The mortar, because of its long range, should be 
placed well within the defensive position, either in the vicinity 
of the battalion reserve line or between the battalion reserve 
line and the regimental reserve line. In some cases the ter- 
rain may be such that positions for the mortars are only 
available in the vicinity of the regimental reserve line. When 
this is the case permission to so emplace mortars should be 
obtained from the commander of the force occupying or re- 
sponsible for the occupation of the regimental reserve line. 

Positions close to the flanks of a defense area should 
be avoided wherever possible. This is especially true for flank 
battalions. Positions should also provide covered routes of 
supply from the rear as well as covered routes for lateral 

The presence of heavy shells in the ammunition supply, 
with a shorter range, should not unduly influence the selection 
of mortar positions. It is not necessary to select mortar posi- 
tions sufficiently close to the front line to permit placing of 
fire by heavy shells 200 yards in front of the main line of resis- 
tance. Rather, the mortars should be placed in positions from 


which the light shell can be fired most advantageously and In 
such localities that an early rearward displacement of mortars 
will not be necessary in the event of an enemy penetration. 
The following considerations justify this procedure: 

a. The unit of fire for a mortar consists of 96 
rounds, 84 of which are light shell and 12 the heavy type. If 
two units of fire are placed on each mortar position, a consider- 
able stock of ammunition will be built up at the position, the 
preponderance of which will be light shell. When the enemy 
attacks, the light shell can be used first and then when the 
enemy approaches within range of the heavy shell those 
shells can be used on suitable targets as they present them- 

b. A position too close to the main line of resis- 
tance will necessitate an early retrograde movement by the 
mortar units in case of an enemy penetration. This will 
materially reduce the fire power of the mortars during the 
most critical stages of the engagement, since no matter how 
they are withdrawn, either singly or by section, the fire power 
of the withdrawing mortar or section is lost during the retro- 
grade movement. 

Assuming that the mortar platoon is usually employed 
by sections, care must be exercised in selecting the individual 
mortar positions. When employed by sections, the normal 
method, the mortars of a section should be separated by from 
50 to 75 yards. This will prevent the destruction of both 
mortars by the burst of a single enemy shell, and will facili- 
tate control. Likewise, mortar emplacements should be suffi- 
ciently distant from other critical installations (observation 
and command posts, other heavy weapons emplacements) to 
avoid simultaneous destruction by a single shell. If practica- 
ble, each emplacement is so located as to be beyond the zone 
of dispersion of enemy projectiles directed on critical targets 
of enemy fire. 

In all cases, the mortar positions must be within effec- 
tive range of the targets and afford observation of the targets 
and friendly troops from observation posts, in general, within 
arm-and-hand signalling distance from the emplacements. 
Where it is desirable to echelon the mortar positions, the 
observation post may be removed at greater distances from 
the emplacements, and fire control exercised through wire 
communication by the platoon leader or by section leaders. 
The normal targets of the mortar are located within a zone of 
from 200 to 600 yards in front of the front-line troops. Smoke 
objectives may be considerably more distant. The mortar em- 
placements should be close enough to the weapons company 
command post to permit rapid and easy communication. Only 
where terrain restricts visibility of targets and the front-line 
troops, should the mortar be advanced beyond the distance 


permitting control by the weapons company commander. In 
such cases, the mortar sections should be placed at the dis- 
position of rifle company commanders. 

Where several equally good mortar positions are avail- 
able in a defensive sector, the positions closest to a good obser- 
vation point should be selected. 

To summarize, the chief requirements of a good mortar 
position are defilade, covered routes of supply, covered routes 
for lateral displacement, ease of withdrawal, ability to fire 
assigned missions without displacement of mortars, and prox- 
imity to good observation posts. 

173. Alternate Positions. — Alternate positions for each mor- 
tar should be selected. The requirements of these alternate 
positions are the same as for the primary positions. 

No supplementary positions are usually required for the 
mortar due to the ease with which its fire can be shifted to 
meet attacks from unexpected directions. However, if the 
terrain is such as to preclude the above, supplementary posi- 
tions should then be selected. 

Initially positions are selected to cover the most likely 
avenues or routes of enemy approach. However, plans for 
the defense of a position can not be considered complete until 
an adequate defense against an enemy attack from any direc- 
tion is provided for. 

174. Occupation of Position. — The squad leader directs the 
installation of the mortar in its firing position, the camouflage 
of the piece and its emplacement, and the adoption or con- 
struction of cover for the piece and the crew. 

In the occupation of the observation post, care is taken 
to avoid movement and exposure that would attract hostile 
attention and fire. 

In the prolonged occupation of a defensive position, the 
formation of paths leading to mortar emplacements and obser- 
vation posts is, as far as practicable, avoided. Disclosure of 
the location of emplacements by unavoidable paths is best 
prevented by carrying the paths beyond the emplacement. 

175. Improvement of Positions. — All positions must be im- 
proved by digging and camouflage to increase the safety and 
concealment of the mortar and personnel. Duplicate range 
cards are prepared; one to be sent to the next higher com- 
mander, the other to be used by the squad leader in con- 
ducting fire. 

176. Primary Targets. — As has been previously pointed out, 
each mortar is assigned one primary target. This target is 
the first priority mission of the mortar to which it is assigned 
and usually forms a part of the final protective line and is 
placed in defiladed or wooded areas which cannot be covered 
by the fire of automatic weapons. It is placed in an area 


usually about 100 x 100 yards to cover an important gap in 
the final protective line of the machine guns of the battalion 
or to cover a critical area in the battalion sector which is 
defiladed from the fire of flat-trajectory weapons, as a woods, 
a ravine or a stream line which offers a covered approach to 
our position. The locations of primary targets are specified 
by the battalion commander. It is fired on a prearranged 
signal and when data has been prepared for it, a separate 
aiming stake is placed to mark its deflection. When not 
engaged in firing the mortar is kept laid on its primary target. 
It is important to remember that if the signal for the primary 
target is received while the mortar is firing at another target, 
fire is immediately shifted to the primary target. This is 
especially important in beach defense employment. 

Within the section, mortars may be assigned separate 
missions or they may both fire upon the same mission depend- 
ing upon the time available, the number of missions and their 
importance. Whether the fire is for neutralization, harass- 
ment or interdiction depends upon the number of rounds fired 
and the length of time during which the firing is conducted. 

177. Secondary Targets. — Each mortar is usually assigned 
one or more secondary targets in addition to its primary tar- 
gets. This secondary target is supplementary and similar 
to a primary target but is placed in some other part of the 
sector, either in front of the main line of resistance, like the 
primary target, or on some important locality within the de- 
fensive sector itself. This secondary target is useful in a 
local hostile attack when the area in which the primary target 
has been located is not threatened. An example of this would 
be to locate the primary target of the mortar near the right 
boundary of the defensive sector and the secondary target 
near the center or left boundary of the sector. Then, if the 
center or left is attacked, but no movement noted near the 
right, the mortar should be switched to its secondary target, 
thereby placing additional fire on the threatened area. 

178. Methods of Employment. — Based on the manner in 
which the mortar platoon is organized, it is believed that the 
best method of employment is by section. This does not mean 
that both mortars are necessarily assigned the same targets, 
but rather, that by employing two mortars together as a 
unit greater ease of control and supply can be obtained. 

Whenever the requirements of the situation or the 
terrain are such as to require independent employment of 
individual mortars the breakdown of the section into single 
mortar units can be made. This breakdown, to some extent, 
makes for a less efficient employment of the platoon. 

One other method of employing the platoon is that of 
using all of the mortars together to form a battery. This 


method has the advantage of greatly simplifying the prob- 
lems of control and supply but has the very great disadvan- 
tage of concentrating the mortars in a relatively small area. 
This method is believed to be the least desirable. 

179. Methods of Assigning Missions. — Each mortar is nor- 
mally assigned a primary target and a secondary target. A 
number of additional secondary targets may be assigned each 
mortar as necessary. 

Targets may be interchangeable between mortars or 
the same targets may be assigned to two or more mortars, 
depending entirely upon the importance of the target or 
area on which the fire is to be placed. 

Sectors of fire may sometimes be assigned to individual 
mortars. When the mortars are so employed, a sector of 
responsibility is assigned an individual mortar or section and 
the crew made responsible for the placing of the necessary 
fire on enemy targets appearing in that sector. 

180. Prepared Fires. — Prepared fires are planned fires for 
both primary and secondary targets for which data is pre- 
pared in advance. Prepared fire is usually area fire, since the 
targets selected are areas which the enemy is most likely to 
occupy, the firing data, (range and deflection) having been 
previously obtained by actual firing, by corrected map data, 
or by use of base points and a shift of fire for each area to 
be covered. 

181. Manner of Assigning Prepared Fires. — Under favorable 
conditions, a limited number of prepared fires may be assigned 
orally, the targets being pointed out on the ground. Assign- 
ment may be by overlay, or by indication of an aerial photo- 
graph or map, in case an aerial photograph or map is avail- 
able. The most suitable method is a combination of indication 
by reference to an overlay and aerial photograph or map, 
where these are available, and pointing out the targets on the 

182. Schedule Fires. — Schedule fires are prepared fires on 
primary and secondary targets executed according to a time 
schedule or upon signal or call from the supported troops. 
Such fires are arranged by the mortar platoon commander or 
the commander of the supported unit, either orally or by mark- 
ing on an aerial photograph, map, overlay, or by a combination 
of these. The time of firing or designation of the signal to 
fire on a particular target or group of targets and the amount 
of ammunition for each are furnished the platoon commander 
and by him given to the sections in the fire plan. 

183. Methods of Observing and Controlling Mortar Fire. — 

The chief methods of controlling the fires of mortars are as 
follows : 


a. From an observation post close to the mortars. This 
method is best when an observation post is close at hand, in 
that orders can be transmitted directly from the observation 
post to the mortars by voice, flag or hand signals. 

b. When the observation post must, because of the 
terrain, be some distance from the mortar position, the chief 
methods of control are by telephone and voice relay chain or 
signal. The first method is more efficient and much more rapid 
but has the disadvantage of being dependent on wire which 
may be destroyed by enemy artillery fire. To provide this 
means of communication each mortar section is equipped with 
two breast reels, each carrying 300 yards of wire, and in 
addition, one mile of wire for use where necessary is carried 
by platoon headquarters. Sufficient telephones are provided 
to connect the observation post and the mortar section com- 
mand post. Where necessary, an observation post may be 
provided for each mortar. All mortar telephone lines from 
mortar observation posts to section command posts are inde- 
pendent of the battalion communication net. 

184. Location of Observation Posts. — Observation posts are 
preferably selected near the crests of hills, but observation 
posts selected in trees, buildings and the like have proven 
satisfactory upon occasion. 

185. Coordination With Rifle Units. — When the mortars are 
emplaced in the areas of the front-line companies, the platoon 
leader and, in the proper case, the section or squad leaders, 
establish contact with local commanders and acquaint them- 
selves with their situation and intentions. In all cases they 
endeavor to regulate their fires in accordance with the situa- 
tion and action of the rifle units. In particular, they intensify 
their fires at the moment of hostile assault or on discovery of 
hostile assembly for attack. 

186. Reorganization. — During lulls in the action, the platoon 
leader checks casualties, replaces leaders, directs any needed 
repairs and replacement of the equipment, and orders the 
necessary replenishment of ammunition. Damage to emplace- 
ments and shelters must be repaired. Positions of the weapons 
may have to be changed frequently because they may have 
become known to the enemy. Orders for withdrawal of the 
platoon will be given by the battalion commander. 

187. Outposts. — Mortars can render valuable assistance to 
outpost missions. The outposts, however, must be of suffi- 
cient size to protect the mortars. It may be necessary to place 
the mortars far apart, in which case the squad leader exer- 
cises fire control and coordinates his fires with the outpost 
unit he is supporting. The section leader would take station 
with the mortar with the most important assignment. 


In an outpost position, usually several supplementary- 
positions must be prepared. The entire Mortar Platoon must 
be familiar with the plan for holding the positions, and for 
the withdrawal and routes back to the main position. If the 
outpost covers a wide front and the situation is not clear, 
mortars sometime are held mobile on their carts in a central 
location, prepared to move quickly to any of several previously 
reconnoitered and prepared positions. 

188. Use of Carts. — The mortars are transported on carts 
whenever the terrain and the situation permit. Movement 
into firing position is effected by manhandling. A movement 
of varying length by manhandling is nearly always required 
by the terrain and the situation. 

189. Ammunition Supply. — In assuming the defense time is 
usually available in which to supply mortar positions with 
ammunition. Ammunition carts dump their loads at or near 
the weapons. They are then used to keep an adequate supply 
of ammunition at the nearest cover in rear of the mortar 
positions by working between this cover and the battalion 
ammunition distributing point. 

Covered approaches to mortar positions are essential in 
order that the supply of ammunition may be facilitated. 




190. The Machine-Gun Platoon, Weapons Company, Infantry 
Battalion, Composition and Armament. — The weapons Com- 
pany of the Infantry Battalion has three machine-gun pla- 
toons, each platoon consisting of — 

a. Platoon Headquarters. 

b. 2 Machine-Gun Sec- 

The Platoon headquar- 
ters consists of a lieutenant 
platoon leader, a platoon ser- 
geant second-in-command, two 
corporals, one of whom is in 
charge of ammunition and the 
other is the instrument corporal, 
and six privates, two of whom 
are messengers and signalmen, 
two observers and two for other 

The machine-gun section 
(Fig. 40) consists of — 

a. Section Headquarters. 

b. 2 Machine-Gun 

The section headquarters 
consists of a sergeant who is the section chief. 

The machine-gun squad consists of a corporal who is 
squad leader and eight privates, one of whom is gunner, one 
assistant gunner and six for ammunition and supply. (Fig. 41.) 

Each squad is equipped with a cal. .30 machine gun, 
making a total of 12 machine guns for the three platoons of 
the company. In addition there are 12 machine guns available 
in company headquarters for use in stabilized defense and as 

The officers and men of the machine-gun platoons are 
armed with the pistol or carbine and the rifle. 











Hit" 1 1 

CAL. 30.M-I 




CAL. 30 




The Heavy Machine Gun Section (cal. .30) 


The Heavy Machine Gun Squad with carts (cal. .30) 


191. Considerations Governing Employment of Machine Guns 
in Defense. — Machine guns form the skeleton of the battle 
position. (Fig. 53.) The battalion commander is responsible for 
the proper tactical employment of his machine guns and the 
battalion defense order prescribes the missions and general 
disposition of heavy machine-gun units. It apportions the 
number of guns to be emplacecl in forward positions for fire 
in front of the main line of resistance ; or in rear positions to 
fire long-range overhead fires and limit local penetration or 
envelopment by hostile attacking forces. Guns emplaced in 
the battle position are assigned positions and missions by 
section; fire sectors and final protective lines of the heavy 
machine guns are combined with the rifle company light 
machine guns so as to cover the front of the main line of 
resistance with continuous bands of fire. 

Infantry alone cannot hope to capture a defensive posi^ 
tion that is plentifully supplied with these machine guns. 
When such a position must be assaulted the attacker must use 
artillery, bombing aviation or tanks to neutralize or destroy 
the defending machine guns. The tank is especially useful in 
this connection, having been designed especially as the direct 
enemy of the machine gun. However the tank has not made 
the machine gun obsolete, as methods are being developed 
to stop the tanks (antitank guns, antitank grenades, antitank 
mines, antitank obstacles, tank destroyers, etc.). Assuming 
that attacking tanks can be stopped the machine guns still 
form the foundation of every defensive scheme. 

192. Mission in Defense. — The primary mission of machine 
guns in defense is the protection of the vital portions of the 
position: that is, the keypoint of the defensive area. The 
means of achieving this mission are as follows: (1) Fires 
supplementary to those of rifle units along likely avenues of 
hostile approach, (2) Fires covering the intervals between 
organized localities, (3) Flanking fires and final protective 
lines laid for the protection of the front and flanks of those 
defense areas of greatest tactical importance. 

In defense the mission of the machine-gun platoon is 
to support the defense of the sector as ordered. 

When the platoon belongs to a weapons company on 
the main line of resistance, the sections within the platoon 
are usually disposed in depth. One section is usually located 
on the main line of resistance; the other in the rear part of 
the battalion sector. 

When the platoon belongs to the weapons company of 
a battalion on the regimental reserve line, the sections are 
usually distributed laterally along the regimental reserve 
line or in rear part of the regimental area. 


193. Reconnaissance. — If time permits a detailed reconnais- 
sance by the battalion commander of the area to be occupied 
by his battalion, he usually directs his weapons company com- 
mander to accompany him on such reconnaissance. During 
the reconnaissance the battalion commander designates sectors 
of fire, methods of fire, and locations for the sections of the 
machine-gun company. More often than not he prescribes 
these matters in a general way only, but, if because of the 
importance of the sector or for some other reason he considers 
it necessary, he may prescribe them specifically and in detail. 

It often happens that the weapons company commander 
will receive enough information of the battalion plan from the 
battalion commander while on this reconnaissance to permit 
his release prior to the issue of the battalion order. This 
permits the company commander time for further reconnais- 
sance and early issuance of orders to his company. When he 
is thus released, the company commander will arrange, if he 
has not already done so, to have his platoon leaders come for- 
ward to accompany him on reconnaissance. 

If the battalion commander prescribes the matters 
relating to the machine-gun employment in a general way 
only, the company commander must prescribe them in more 

194. Orders. — The platoon leader receives his orders from 
the weapons company commander. 

Whenever possible these orders should be issued on 
the ground the platoon is to occupy. 

Orders to the platoon should include information of 
the enemy and of the friendly troops, the mission of the 
platoon, the general area or areas to be occupied, the general 
areas to be covered by fire (the sectors of fire), the direction 
of the final protective lines, administrative details, and loca- 
tion of the weapons company command post. 

Upon receipt of his orders the platoon leader should 
contact the rifle company commanders in whose sectors the 
platoon will be located and learn from them the locations of 
their platoon defense areas. 

He then reconnoiters for gun positions and sends for 
the section leaders if he has not already done so. 

When the section leaders arrive, he issues the platoon 
order. Each section leader should be given his order on the 
ground his section will occupy. 

Orders to the sections should include information of 
the enemy and of friendly troops, the mission of the section, 
the general area to be occupied by the section, the limits of 
the sector or sectors of fire of the guns, the direction of the 
final protective lines, and administrative details. 


The platoon leader points out to squad and section 
leaders the course of the main line of resistance, indicates 
the gun positions and sectors of fire, and prescribes the field 
works to be executed (intrenchments, accessory defenses). 
He checks arrangements for final protective fires ; insures that 
all personnel understand the signal for bringing down such 
fires and how long the fires will be sustained ; checks arrange- 
ments for supply at the guns; verifies the establishment of 
alternate positions and arrangements by squad leaders for 
their occupation. 

The position of rifle company light machine guns, 
grouped with the heavy machine guns on the main line of 
resistance, are visited by the machine-gun platoon leaders in 
order to insure that sectors of fire of the light guns are fully 
coordinated with the battalion plan of fire. 

195. The Fire Plan. — Actual firing in defense of a position is 
accomplished in accordance with a previously prepared plan. 
This is called the fire plan and is based on instructions from 
the commander of the defensive sector. 

A fire plan should include the limits of the sector of 
fire for each section, the direction and extent of the final pro- 
tective line if the unit is in a forward combat group; the 
conditions under which fire is to be opened, the length of time 
fire is to be sustained, the amount of ammunition to be ex- 
pended and any special signals for the control of fire. Plans 
for periods of low visibility, such as night, are also announced, 
and other instructions necessary to meet any action of which 
the enemy is capable. 

196. Final Protective Line. — The final protective line is the 
last hope for the defense of an area. While machine guns in 
a defensive position may seek out enemy targets within their 
range and may fire at other targets of opportunity as they 
appear, they are all sited for the final defense of the area 
they are assigned to protect along a series of lines that are 
laid close and generally parallel to the forward edge of the 
defense area. The pattern of the interlocking band or wall 
of fire that is thus created in front of the position is called 
the final protective line. (Fig. 42.) Along the trace of these 
bands of fire, tactical wire is erected. When the enemy as- 
saults the position the guns are switched from targets at 
which they had been firing to their previously assigned final 
protective line, thus creating an impenetrable wall of fire that 
the enemy walks into if they continue their advance. 




Final Protective Lines are clo 

,:■ placed a 
of a defensive position for gr 
fixed in elevation and direction 
fired day or night or under ai 

•oss the front 
sing fire, and 
They can be 
r condition of 

5 (both light and heavy) on 
esistance are laid and clamped 
tive line when not otherwise 
are placed on these lines on 
ng rifle units and last for a 

i of FPL's on flat ground is 
illets do not rise above the 
in this distance. 
f Guns coordinate their fires 
i of other 

uli clo 

■, r ,,!,,-, I U in- .called tactical obstacle*) 

c,.m--i i :■ ir.f ulniii:- FPL's to detain the enenv 
hold him under fire. FPL's (with barbe 
re obstacles) should not be closer than 4 1 

yards nor farther than 100 yards from the 

position being defended. 

If Less Than 40 Yards, the enemy could 

approach within hand grenade range. 
If More Than 100 Yards, it is more difficult to 
hold the enemy under effective fire and observa- 
tion, especially in fog or at night when visi- 
bility is reduced. 


Blue is organizing a defensive position 
against an expected Red attack from the north. 
One rifle company is assigned to defend Hill 
532 and one to defend Hill 544. 

Machine guns sited on west side of Hill 544 
(at "B") can place grazing fire (FPL as shown 
by the heavy portion of the arrow) across the 
entire front of Hill 532 because ground is 
approximately Mat aionir that part of the line 
of fire. 

Machine guns located on east side of Hill W.V1 
(at "A") cannot cover entire front of Hill 544 
u it), Hi c because the nose extending north from 
Hill 544 prevents grazing tire bevond that 
point To cover the entire front of Hill 544. 
additional guns must be placed at "C." 

The fires from guns at "A" and "B" would 
not be grazing fire where it crosses the low 
ground along the stream; therefore no FPL's 
are indicated in that area. That area would 
be assigned to a 60mm or 81mm mortar and 
their fires would be placed there when it be- 
came necessary to fire on the FPL. 

The FPL's from guns at "A" and "C" would 
not be grazing fire beyond the nose of Hill 544, 
as the ground drops off too sharply; therefore 

's fo 

700 yard* long, but only long enough to indi- 

Tactical wire obstacles along the FPL's is 

Note especially that FPL's run generally 
parallel to the front being defended, and not 
out toward the expected enemy approach. 
Machine guns would fire to the front (from 
alternate or supplementary positions) when 
the enemy was in the vicinity of the bridge, 
Harmony Church, and Hill 526. As the attack- 
ing elements came closer the machine guns 
would move or shift their fires to form the 
interlocking hands of grazing fire {final pro- 
tective lines) across the fronts of adjacent units 
along the previously selected lines as indicated. 

197. Fire Direction and Control. — Fire direction is the assign- 
ment of target areas or fire sectors, while fire control is exer- 
cise of the actual function of controlling the fire of the weapon. 
Whenever practicable, the platoon leader controls the fire 
of the platoon guns. He locates the approximate gun positions, 
assigns targets, fixes ammunition expenditures, and gives 
commands or signals for opening fire. Otherwise he exercises 
the functions of fire direction by assignment of target areas 
or fire sectors to the section leaders, who then exercise fire- 
control functions. 

In masked position, the platoon leader usually exercises 
fire-control functions. However, wide separation of the sec- 
tions or difficulty of communications may require delegation 
of these functions to section leaders. 

In open positions, delegation of fire-control functions 
to section leaders is usually necessary. However, crest posi- 
tions affording ample cover in the immediate rear may make 
possible platoon fire control as for masked positions. In this 
case, gun crews and weapons remain in cover positions until 
ordered to occupy fire positions by the platoon leader. 

As a general rule, most effective results are obtained 
by the surprise concentration in respect to both place and 
time of the fire of all the platoon guns. Where time is availa- 
ble, fires on the various targets included in the platoon target 
areas or sectors of fire are, where practicable, prearranged 
and executed on order of the platoon leader. He fixes the 
number of rounds to be fired on each target. 

Observers posted from the platoon command group 
maintain continuity of observation over the platoon sector 
or target area. They select key terrain features as reference 
points and determine range and other firing data to facilitate 
the engagement of targets of opportunity appearing in the 
field of fire. 

The platoon observation post should be close enough to 
the gun positions for easy transmission of orders by arm-and- 
hand signals. It should permit continuous observation of the 
location of the fire sector or target areas assigned to the 
platoon. Supplementary posts may be established for obser- 
vation of the situation on the flanks and antiaircraft warning 
missions under the direction of the platoon sergeant. In 
defense, control in depth is preferable to lateral control. If 
the platoon is distributed in depth, the platoon leader can first 
move forward to control his initially engaged forward section, 
and then be able to move to the rear to give instructions to his 
more rearward section. This is more feasible than any move- 
ment of the platoon commander to the flanks in a lateral dis- 
tribution of guns. Control of guns on the regimental reserve 
line is lateral. 


198. Machine-Gun Fire Unit. — The section is the machine- 
gun fire unit. In order to insure the density of fire that a 
machine-gun sector of fire ordinarily demands, and also facili- 
tate tactical control within the machine-gun sections, the guns 
are usually located in pairs. Although the guns are employed 
in pairs they should be separated enough to prevent the des- 
truction of both by one shell, and, at the same time, they 
should be close enough for both to be engaged on the same 
fire mission. In order to provide for the above and yet permit 
control by the section leader they are generally placed from 
20 to 50 yards apart. 

Although as previously stated, machine guns are usual- 
ly employed in pairs, it sometimes happens that this method of 
employment will not meet the needs of the defense. In 
wooded or broken terrain, for example, where there may be 
a need for an unusual number of machine gun fire missions, 
the guns of the section may be assigned separate missions. 
In such a case, the guns should not be so far separated as to 
preclude tactical control by the section leader. 

199. Sectors of Fire. — Sectors of fire are assigned to each 
section of the platoon. The sectors of fire of a forward sec- 
tion should not usually exceed 1600 mils. Forward sections 
should always be assigned a sector of fire and a final pro- 
tective line. 

The sectors of fire of machine guns of a rear section 
located in either the rear part of the battalion area or along 
the regimental reserve may exceed 1600 mils. The sectors 
of fire of rear machine guns will not usually exceed 2000 mils. 

200. Distribution of Guns. — Machine guns assigned to the 
defense of an area should be distributed in depth in accordance 
with the principle of keeping the enemy under fire in front 
of, and within the position. There is a great tendency to place 
an undue proportion of machine guns well forward in a defen- 
sive sector. It can be readily seen that with most of the guns 
placed forward, it is very likely that once the main line of 
resistance is penetrated, many of the guns will be put out of 
action or lost and the resistance to the attack greatly lessened. 
The possible use of 12 additional machine guns on defense will 
greatly obviate this difficulty in stabilized situations. 

It must be borne in mind that the necessity for depth 
is important for it will usually be found that there are insuf- 
ficient guns in the rear areas to carry out the general plan of 
the defense. 

Another advantage obtained by distributing the guns 
throughout the area is that, in all probability, fewer guns will 
be destroyed by the enemy artillery fires prior to the com- 
mencement of the attack, and the task of the enemy mortars 
and artillery in seeking out machine-gun emplacements will be 
much more difficult and less likely of success. 


An exception to the above considerations is when the 
main line of resistance is on a reverse slope it is often practica- 
ble to move all machine guns to the crest in front for long- 
range fire with a view to inflicting maximum losses on the 
enemy during his advance. However, provision for timely- 
withdrawal to primary positions must be made. 

When the main line of resistance lies upon a forward 
slope, one echelon of guns frequently occupies firing positions 
on the crest in rear for long-range fires. These guns also have 
the mission of stopping any hostile elements which succeed in 
breaking through the main line of resistance ; they also func- 
tion in antiaircraft defense. Where necessary, they occupy 
primary positions for covering the long-range fields of fire, and 
supplementary positions for the close-range missions. The 
long-range fires may be delivered from masked positions. Init- 
ially this echelon may be on the line of combat outposts if 
covered routes of withdrawal are available. 

201. Protection for Machine Guns. — In executing the mission 
of protecting important positions, the machine guns in turn 
will need close in protection. (Fig. 43.) The best way of pro- 
tecting the guns is by placing them within the occupied areas 
of rifle platoons or immediately adjacent to a platoon defense 
area. If at any time it is not practicable to place the guns in 


Rifleman in foxhole for close-in protection of machine-gun emplacement 

(Shown without camouflage to illustrate construction) 


or near a platoon defense area, riflemen from an adjacent pla- 
toon defense area should be furnished to protect the gun 
crews, for reasons described in next paragraph. 

202. Locating Machine Guns in the Defensive Area. — It is the 

duty of the battalion commander to decide on the general 
location of the machine guns and their sectors of fire. 

Both the front and the intervals between platoon 
defense areas are covered by machine-gun fire whenever possi- 
ble. This may sometimes be better accomplished by locating 
the guns near adjacent platoon defense areas than by placing 
them in the platoon defense area itself. Not only is the fire 
of guns disposed in this manner more apt to be flanking and 
consequently more remunerative but it is directed against an 
attacking unit whose zone of attack, more often than not, does 
not include the gun position. The difficulties of the attacking 
unit in such a case can be readily appreciated. 

From the above, it follows that when an enemy unit 
attacks a platoon defense area it receives fire from machine 
guns some distance from its flanks. Such fires are directed 
at every attacking element that is seen or believed to be within 
effective range. If no enemy can be seen, such as at night or 
in a fog, and there is no better use to which the fires of the 
guns can be put, they are then used to place an interlocking 
band or wall of fire in front of the adjacent platoon defense 
area (the final protective line) . 

From the preceding explanation it can be seen that most 
defensive fires, whether delivered at seen or unseen hostile tar- 
gets or along a final protective line, not only strike the attacker 
from the flanks but come from outside that attacker's own zone 
of attack. Once the attacker is caught by these fires, it becomes 
exceedingly difficult for the attack to progress. If, in addition, 
the machine guns have defilade and concealment protecting 
them from the fire and observation of hostile elements advanc- 
ing directly upon them, their flanking fire is even more effec- 

All guns are normally assigned a sector of fire, the main 
object of which is the covering of probable routes of hostile 
approach. There are ample guns within our present organiza- 
tion to cover both routes of approach and the front and flanks 
of combat groups. 

As indicated above, it is usually desirable to place guns 
in sight defilade, or in rear of natural obstacles that permit 
flanking fire and give concealment from the front. However, 
in locating gun positions, it should be remembered that the 
guns are placed primarily in order to be able to fire upon the 
enemy, and that any compromise among the factors entering 
into the ideal position should not result in serious limitations 
of this requirement. 


When locating the gun positions, the suitability of the 
prospective positions for use at night must also be considered. 
Where a single position suitable for both day and night can be 
found it is advantageous to use it. When such a position is 
not to be found a supplementary night position must also be 
selected and prepared. 

203. Fire Positions. — In the defense, machine guns 
occupy — 

a. Primary gun positions. 

b. Alternate gun positions. 

c. Supplementary gun positions. 

(1) Primary positions. — Primary gun positions 
are those locations from which the gun fires upon its primary 
mission, the protection of the vital portions of the defense 
position, the final protective line. 

(2) Alternate positions. — Guns that fire repeat- 
edly from the same position are quickly located by the enemy 
and usually destroyed. Alternate positions are those to which 
the machine guns can be moved, and from which the same 
assigned missions can be accomplished. They should be at 
least 50 yards from the occupied position ; are prepared in the 
same manner and, if possible, are connected with the occupied 
positions by a shallow trench or other means in order to pro- 
vide protection for the gun crews when shifting to them. 
Instead of waiting to receive enemy fire that threatens to make 
an initial position untenable, the detection of the position by 
the enemy should be anticipated and movement made to alter- 
nate positions before fire is received. The movement is 
ordered by the section leaders. Even when there is no firing, 
alternate positions may be occupied from time to time on 
orders of the platoon leader to deceive the enemy, especially 
when there is active enemy aerial observation. 

Long range machine-gun fires from positions in the 
main line of resistance result in premature disclosure of princi- 
pal defensive positions and exposure to the annihilating fire of 
hostile artillery. 

(3) Supplementary positions. — Supplementary po- 
sitions are positions prepared for occupancy by machine guns 
from which they can cover likely avenues of enemy approach 
not covered from the primary positions. Unlike alternate 
positions, supplementary positions require a separate new 
mission. Supplementary positions may be frequently occupied 
by the rearward guns for, in most cases, these guns can be 
more readily shifted since they will not, in some instances, be 
as completely committed during certain stages of the hostile 
attack as the more forward guns. These positions are within 
the same general area and are usually within 100 yards of 
the normal (principal) position. 


Supplementary positions for long-range fire by machine 
guns assigned to the main line of resistance are limited to 
locations which assure covered routes for return to position on 
the main line of resistance in time to accomplish the principal 
fire missions from the primary positions. 

Supplementary positions are occupied only upon orders 
of the weapons company commander, except in emergencies, 
when the platoon leader may direct their occupancy. 

(4) Dummy emplacements. — If time permits, 
dummy emplacements are constructed. These emplacements 
are not as well concealed as the regular emplacements and are 
located at some distance from actual gun positions. The pur- 
pose of such emplacements is to deceive the enemy as to the 
actual installations. 

204. Movement Into Position.— A weapons company ordered 
to occupy, as part of a battalion, a forward area on the main 
battle position, moves up to its position in one of two general 
ways: (1) directly up to its position, (2) to an assembly 
position or other intermediate place and thence to its defensive 
position later. In either case it is the responsibility of the 
company commander to see that his company reaches its 
designated defense area promptly and is properly disposed on 
the position. 

When its battalion deploys, the weapons company 
adopts a formation corresponding to that of the rifle com- 
panies. It may move forward in a partly deployed company 
formation (which is the usual procedure, time permitting) or 
a platoon may be attached to each rifle company and move 
forward with it. 

205. Organization of Gun Positions. — a. After orders have 
been issued and the unit arrives on the ground to be occupied, 
certain duties must be performed pertaining to the organiza- 
tion of the position. Emplacements must be dug for the pri- 
mary gun positions, necessary fields of fire cleared, tactical 
wire erected, range cards prepared, ammunition and other sup- 
plies brought up to the position; these duties being assigned 
to members of the squad to perform. Ammunition details 
from each squad are generally grouped under the ammunition 
corporal when bringing ammunition to the position. 

b. After the initial work has progressed to include 
standing type emplacement for the primary gun positions, 
(Figs. 44, 44A) work is commenced on alternate gun positions 
and routes to them from the primary gun positions ; then work 
is begun on the supplementary gun positions and routes 
to them from the primary and alternate gun positions, and 
finally, dummy emplacements are constructed. 




Heavy Machine Gun emplacement, note revetment 

(Shown without camouflage to illustrate construction) 

RD 3349 


Heavy Machine Gun emplacement, front view 


c. During the time that the primary gun emplacements 
are being constructed, the machine guns should be mounted 
and prepared to fire against the enemy should he launch a sur- 
prise attack. 

206. Siting the Guns. — Machine guns are sited for direct fire. 
Indirect fire is secondary. In the earliest stages rear guns may 
not find any targets in their sectors of fire. Thus, rear guns may 
sometimes be used initially to fire long range indirect fire mis- 
sions. When the rear guns are used to fire these missions, the 
firing should be done from or near the direct-fire emplacements 
of the guns, when practicable. The machine guns of reserve 
units should be sited so that from their primary positions they 
can be normally employed on direct fire long range missions 
against suitable hostile targets, using overhead fire, before 
the hostile assault is well under way. Any supplementary 
indirect fire positions must be near enough to the primary gun 
positions for the guns to be returned to them quickly, as soon 
as it becomes possible to engage the enemy by direct fire 

207. Vulnerability.— The machine gun is peculiarly vulnera- 
ble to the individual enemy rifleman who may work forward, 
under cover of the fire of other enemy riflemen, to a position 
from which he picks off the gun crew one by one or even rush 
the position. This is particularly true when the gunner's 
attention and fire is properly directed obliquely to the front, 
as previously described, and not in the direction from which 
the attack upon him comes. Consequently, it is advisable to 
place the guns in or near platoon defense areas. In contra- 
distinction it is also true that the machine guns will probably 
draw accurate long range mortar fire and should not be 
located in the center of a platoon defense area. 

208. Concealment.— Every possible means should be taken to 
avoid disclosing the location of machine guns to the enemy. 
(Fig. 45.) Careful concealment of the gun positions will do 
much to prevent their destruction by hostile mortar or artil- 
lery fire as well as to prevent their becoming focal points of 
the attack. Locations near trenches exposed to hostile ground 
or aerial observation should be avoided, if possible, in order to 
escape the effect of hostile fire directed at the trenches. Also, 
the more complete the concealment of the guns, the greater 
the chances of surprise effect on the attacking enemy. 


■ /**; 

• "' ^: " •> \ 


Heavy Machine Gun dugout emplacement 

(Shown without camouflage to illustrate construction) 

Care should be taken to avoid making paths to the 
machine gun positions. Paths are plainly visible from the air 
or in an aerial photograph and may be the means of disclos- 
ing to the enemy the location of an otherwise well concealed 
gun position. 

209. Assignment of Sectors of Fire. — Sectors of fire are 
assigned to sections as previously described. Preparations 
are also made to fire upon important areas within the assigned 
sector by night firing methods during periods of low visibility. 
A defense range card is prepared for each gun and plans made 
to take neighboring combat groups under fire in case of their 

In order to secure depth for the defense, sectors of 
fire for sections occupying rearward positions are assigned 
so as to include areas between occupied defensive positions 
to their front. Flank units may be assigned sectors outside 
the battle position to protect the flanks. When overhead fire 
is possible for the rearward guns, they may be assigned addi- 
tional missions. 


210. Coordination of Fire. — a. Within the battalion area. — 
The fires of the rifle, light machine gun and machine-gun units 
are coordinated within the battalion area. This is done either 
by orders of the battalion commander or, more often, by 
mutual adjustments between the weapons company com- 
mander and the rifle company commanders in accordance with 
the orders of the battalion commander. The reason for this 
coordination is to insure the covering of all important areas by 

b. With neighboring defense areas. — The coordination 
of machine-gun fire with that of the machine guns of neigh- 
boring defense areas is arranged by the weapons company 
commanders as ordered or prescribed by their respective bat- 
talion commanders. The arrangements of a mutual exchange 
of defensive fires insures the covering of most of the weak 
points in the defensive areas, the battalion boundaries, by fire. 

c. Once the weapons company commander has ordered 
his guns into position in accordance with the general or 
detailed instructions of the battalion commander, he should 
submit to the battalion commander, as soon as possible, a 
sketch or map showing his gun locations and sectors of fire. 
The sketch should include his own gun positions, the support- 
ing machine-gun fires of neighboring units, and any recom- 
mendations regarding desirable adjustments in the locations 
or sectors of fire. If possible, the weapons company com- 
mander should personally take his plan to the battalion com- 
mander, who has to coordinate it with mortar and artillery fire 

d. It sometimes happens that a battalion is forced to 
take up a defensive position in close contact with the enemy. 
In some such cases it may be advisable for the battalion com- 
mander to attach machine-gun sections or platoons to rifle 
companies temporarily. When this occurs, the machine-gun 
section or platoon leaders locate and site their weapons for the 
defense of the unit to which they are attached, coordinating 
their fires with those of other units as soon as circumstances 

When the above situation occurs, the battalion com- 
mander should, as soon as possible thereafter, release the guns 
to the control of the weapons company commander and prepare 
a coordinated plan as previously described. 

211. Assignment of Final Protective Lines. — Since firing 
along the final protective lines affords the best means of pro- 
tection when visibility is so poor that no definite enemy targets 
can be actually seen, preparation for firing along these lines 
should be made early in the occupation of a position and the 
necessary data recorded on the defensive range card. It is 
especially important that these final protective lines be co- 
ordinated with adjacent machine guns and other weapons in 
order to insure that all dead spaces in the final protective 
lines are covered by the fires of other weapons. 


212. Communications.— The weapons company command post 
is normally located in the vicinity of the battalion command 
post. With the guns of the company distributed throughout 
the battalion area, communication between the elements of 
the company will, at best, be extremely difficult to maintain. 
It is essential that some form of communication be maintained 
between company and platoon commanders. Except in highly 
stabilized situations, runners are the only means available, 
and for this reason, the company commander should make cer- 
tain that runners are always present in the vicinity of his 
command post. Communication within the platoon is by voice, 
messenger, and arm and hand signals. 

213. Ammunition Supply. — It is the responsibility of the 
weapons company commander to make the necessary arrange- 
ments for the ammunition supply of his units. In front line 
battalions, the original loads of the ammunition carts are 
usually unloaded near the gun positions. Ammunition carts 
are then grouped and sent to the battalion ammunition dis- 
tributing point for refilling. The second loads may also be 
taken up to or near the gun positions or they may be kept in 
a central location as a company reserve, either loaded on or 
unloaded from the carts. 

It is often necessary to send carts of front-line compa- 
nies to positions in the rear where they will be out of danger 
of enemy artillery fire. When this is necessary, additional 
water and ammunition are brought up under cover of dark- 
ness. It is the duty of the company commander to endeavor 
to establish a large enough reserve of ammunition on the 
position to meet expected demands. 

214. Reserve Battalion Machine Guns. — The machine guns of 
reserve battalions may be assigned one or more of the follow- 
ing missions : 

a. Placing long range machine-gun fire on enemy tar- 
gets forward of the battle position. 

b. Supporting counterattacks made by reserve units. 

c. Assisting other units in checking hostile penetra- 
tions or envelopments of the defensive area. 

Gun positions for the accomplishment of the first of 
these missions are usually to the rear of the guns of the front- 
line battalions. The guns are used to place harassing or inter- 
dictory fires, or barrages that form a part of the close-in 
defensive fires in front of the position. 

The selection of the positions for these guns is deter- 
mined by (a) necessity for concealment (b) clearance of inter- 
vening masks (c) safety of overhead fire (d) observation 
(e) proximity to the reserve unit. 


The fires of the reserve guns are usually executed by 
battery fire using indirect laying. The battery fire unit is the 

In case the reserve battalion is assigned the task of 
organizing the regimental reserve line for defense, the machine 
guns of the battalion are used in the organization. The same 
principles that govern the locating of the forward guns apply 
in general, with the exception that it is frequently advisable 
to assign wider sectors of fire. Positions are prepared and 
arrangements made for the placing of fixed bands of grazing 
fire similar to final protective lines. The prepared positions 
may be initially occupied or the company may be held mobile 
with its battalion. Machine guns of reserve battalions are 
never moved so far from the remainder of the reserve battalion 
that they will not be available to that battalion in case of 

215. Conduct of the Defense.— a. Machine guns located in a 
forward combat group should not open fire when the enemy 
scouts or tanks appear. These agents usually precede the 
enemy main forces into. battle. They are not remunerative 
targets for machine guns. 

b. The forward machine guns, especially those under 
hostile terrestrial observation, should remain silent until the 
enemy main forces appear. 

c. Machine guns located in the rear part of a defensive 
sector, not under terrestrial observation, may be used for 
long range harassing and interdiction missions. 

d. Machine guns located in forward combat groups 
that have final protective line missions should not open fire 
against hostile low flying aircraft because of the danger of 
disclosing their locations. Other machine guns engage hostile 
low flying aircraft in accordance with provisions of the fire 



r.d. 1723 Figure 46 

Machine guns in defense of a hill 

Defense of a hill. — A hill is better defended from the 
flanks than by placing guns on the hill itself. The guns are 
usually placed on the shoulders of the hill or upon adjacent 
high ground so as to sweep the forward slope with fire which 
will strike the enemy's probable attack formation in flank. 


R.D. 1723 

Figure 47 

Machine guns in defense of a ridge 

Defense of a ridge.— A ridge is best swept by long 
diagonal bands of fire across its face. Guns farther in rear 
are placed to enfilade the crest. 




(With additional defense guns) 




R.D. 1723 

Figure 48 

Machine guns in defense of a ravine 

Defense of a ravine. — Guns are usually placed at the 
head of important ravines or on the flanks so that they can 
sweep the sides and enfilade enemy lines advancing to the 
heights. A large ravine may be closed by placing guns behind 
forward spurs so as to sweep the entrance and the high ground 
on the opposite side. Such guns are flanked by guns along the 
edge of the ravine farther to the rear. 



rd. 1723 Figure 49 

Machine guns in defense of a woods 

Defense of a woods. — Woods afford good concealment 
and free circulation. In large woods interior strong points 
should be organized. Positions are constructed well inside the 
edge and on high ground so as to avoid gas pools. Fire lanes 
2 yards wide and sloping diagonally forward should be trimmed 
out of the underbrush. Care must be taken not to cut openings 
in the tops of the trees which will show on airplane photo- 
graphs. An attack through woods nearly always results in 
an uneven advance or comparative disorganization of the 
attacking forces. Guns sited so as to enfilade the rear and 
side edges of the woods tend to hold the attacking force within 
the woods, where artillery fire may be directed upon them. 
Small woods are very likely to be made the target of hostile 
artillery concentrations. Machine guns defending a small 
woods should be sited outside the woods and in such positions 
that they can sweep its front and flanks. 

Diagrams. — The following diagrams are given to show 
examples of the employment of the machine guns within a 
defensive area. The sketches are entirely diagramatic and 
illustrate the conventional method of picturing the machine- 
gun plan of defense. 

The orders for daylight firing within assigned sectors 
of fire usually prescribe the time of opening fire. These orders 
may prescribe opening fire at long range or firing may be 
restricted until the enemy reaches a specified area at closer 
range. The fire may be held in order to meet the first enemy 






R.D. 1723 

Figure 50 


groups with a volume of deliberately aimed surprise fire. 
However, the danger of withholding fire for an ideally grouped 
target, while an opportunity passes to do material damage at 
longer ranges, must be guarded against. 

Important targets may be assigned for night firing 
missions. In assigning such targets they are usually, but not 
necessarily, within the sector assigned each section for day 
defense. The time of opening these night fires is prescribed 
in time schedules, given in oral orders, or controlled by pyro- 
technic signals. 

RD 3349 

Figure 51 






Machine guns emplaced within a 

battalion defense area. Mutual exchange 
of supporting fires between adjacent 
battalions is shown. Six additional 
defense guns used. (Stabilized situation) 

RD 1723-1 

Figure 52 


216. Antiaircraft Missions. — The heavy machine-gun pla- 
toons are habitually employed on antiaircraft missions in the 
following situations: 

a. In bivouac.—- The weapons company commander 
emplaces machine guns to cover the bivouac area of the bat- 
talion, employing all guns of the company. Reliefs are 
arranged at the guns and constant readiness for action main- 
tained. The commander of the troops establishes an antiair- 
craft warning system, and the weapons company commander 
informs gun commanders of the warning signals. Protection 
of machine guns on antiaircraft defense missions is, where 
necessary, provided by rifle units of the outpost or other 
security elements. 

b. In defensive situations. — Machine guns covering the 
main line of resistance are not employed on antiaircraft mis- 
sions. Emplacements are so constructed and camouflaged as 
to make hostile air attack unprofitable and active defense 
measures unnecessary. Machine guns assigned to long range 
missions and removed from the zone of the main line of resist- 
ance may be assigned antiaircraft missions. Reserve battal- 
ions usually employ their machine guns to protect their own 
location both in attack and in defense. Dispositions are in 
general the same as in bivouac. 

c. Antiaircraft protection of motorized columns. — This 
protection is furnished by guns mounted on vehicles and dis- 
tributed throughout the column while it is on the march. Dur- 
ing halts the guns may be taken off the vehicles and placed in 
the best positions available for the protection of the unit to 
which they are attached. Usually vehicles depend on rapid 
and individual movement and concealed or camouflaged loca- 
tions to render hostile air attack unprofitable. 

d. Antiaircraft protection for movements by rail. — 

When troops are moved by railroad, machine guns may be 
assigned antiaircraft missions, by mounting them on the cars 
in suitable locations. When troops board or alight from the 
train, or the train stops for prolonged periods, the machine 
guns take up positions to afford maximum protection. 

217. Delaying Action and Withdrawal. — In action following 
the unsuccessful defense of a position, in a delaying action or 
in a withdrawal, the machine-gun platoon may be employed as 
part of the weapons company, as a separate unit, or attached 
to a rifle unit. 

In any case it should operate under the general princi- 
ples of defensive combat, except that the sections would not 
be placed in great depth. It would receive orders from the 
weapons company commander or from the commander of the 
rifle unit to which attached. 


Machine guns are normally attached to a rifle unit in 
defense when the mission of the rifle unit requires the move- 
ment of the machine guns beyond the limit of efficient supply 
and control by the weapons company commander. Attached 
machine-gun units receive their orders from the commander of 
the rifle unit to which attached. Supply of attached machine 
guns is the responsibility of the rifle unit commander during 
the period of attachment. 

In open terrain, machine guns are the principal ele- 
ments in delaying action against pursuit by foot infantry. 

Positions affording long-range fields of fire for the 
machine guns and covered lines of withdrawal are essential. 
Usually machine guns engage targets from positions well in 
rear of rifle companies, leaving close and midrange fires to the 
light machine gun and other rifle company elements. To pro- 
tect the withdrawal it may, however, be necessary for ma- 
chine-gun elements to hold their positions to the last man. 
Machine guns select supplementary emplacements to cover the 
close range field of fire, seeking mutual support of machine- 
gun sections by cross fires. 

Early reconnaissance of successive lines of resistance 
for selection of firing and observation positions and routes of 
withdrawal thereto are initiated. Carts are utilized wherever 
practicable for movement of weapons. 

Night withdrawals are most effective and machine guns 
in the covering force should be able to fire night missions, and 
assist in deceiving the enemy as to the withdrawal in prog- 
ress. Close protection of the machine guns should be given by 
the rifle units, and when this is no longer possible, the machine 
guns should withdraw. Machine guns farther to the rear, in 
general support of the battalion, should continue firing until 
the local covering force withdraws. 


218. Conventional Signs. — The following conventional signs 
are listed for the convenience of students in working map 
problems or terrain exercises. 

Machine Gun 

(Arrow to point in principal direc- 
tion of fire. When used alone it in- 
dicates machine-gun, water-cooled, 

cal. .30.) 





Sector of fire, heavy machine gun 
(one gun). 



Light Machine Gun 

(Arrow to point in principal direc- 
tion of fire. When used alone it 
indicates machine-gun, air-cooled, 
cal. .30.) 

Sector of fire, heavy machine-gun 


Sector of fire, light machine gun. Sector of fire, light machine-gun 






Sector of fire, heavy machine-gun Normal one machine-gun barrage, 
section (shaded portion shows dan- 
ger space on final protective line). 

CD C> o 

• •• 

A platoon defense area. Defense area of two 


Defense area of one 

D |Xl 5 ID |X| 5 ID |Xl 5 D |X| 5 

Heavy MG 

(1st Squad, Co. 

Heavy MG 

(1st Section, Co. 

D 5th Marines.) D, 5th Marines.) 
RD 3349 

Heavy MG 

(1st MG Platoon, 
Co. D, 5th Ma- 

Weapons Co. 

(1st Battalion, 
5th Marines.) 




219. The Weapons Company, Infantry Battalion, Composi- 
tion and Armament. — The Weapons Company of the Marine 
Infantry Battalion is the fourth lettered company of each 
battalion (D, H, M,) and consists of — 

A Company Head- 



1 AA and AT Platoon. 
1 81mm Mortar Pla- 


d. 3 Machine-Gun Pla- 


(1) The Company 
Headquarters consists of a 
Major, who is the company com- 
mander, a captain executive 
officer, a lieutenant reconnais- 
sance officer and 19 enlisted men 
who aid in the administration 
and tactical control of the com- 
pany. They are armed with 15 
rifles and 7 pistols or carbines. 

The Company Executive 
Officer is also specifically desig- 
nated and trained as company 
machine-gun officer. Thus when 
the company commander is ab- 
sent an officer still remains with 
the company to control the three 
machine-gun platoons. 

(2) The AA and AT 
Platoon is organized and equip- 
ped as set forth in Par. 153. 

(3) The 81mm Mortar Platoon is organized and 
equipped as set forth in Par. 165. 

(4) The machine-gun platoons are organized and 
equipped as set forth in Par. 190. 

220. General. — The Weapons Company comprises the sup- 
porting and antitank weapons of the battalion. It is com- 
bined under one commander for administrative and training 













CAL. 30, M-l 




-hr — " 

2 4 HEAVY 



2 0mm A A - AT 

<A * 


w y 






purposes. While, as hereinbefore explained, the AA-AT Pla- 
toon operates tactically directly under the Battalion Com- 
mander, the Weapons Company Commander insofar as it is 
possible retains tactical control of all 3 machine-gun platoons 
and the 81mm Mortar Platoon. (For detailed employment of 
the AA-AT Platoon in Defense see Sec. 7.) 

221. Dual Status of Weapons Company Commander. — A dual 

relationship exists between the weapons company commander 
and the battalion commander. The weapons company com- 
mander has both staff duties and command duties. As a 
staff officer he may make recommendations to his commander 
regarding the use to be made of the weapons company, basing 
these recommendations upon the announced plan of the bat- 
talion commander and considering the powers and limitations 
of the weapons company. The battalion commander may ac- 
cept the recommendations in full or may make certain changes ; 
in either case the decision having been made, the weapons 
company commander ceases to act as a staff officer and, as a 
troop commander, proceeds to carry out the decision of his 
superior. This procedure will be used in the field when time 
permits. When time is short the battalion commander may 
merely announce his decision to the weapons company com- 
mander and direct him to take the necessary actions to prop- 
erly support the operations. However, the battalion com- 
mander usually issues detailed instructions regarding the em- 
ployment of the weapons company specifying the missions and 
general dispositions of the units of the company, including 
the approximate number of machine-gun sections to be placed 
in forward positions and the number to be placed in rear posi- 
tions, special missions for the mortars and instructions regard- 
ing long range fires, or attachments of weapons to the combat 

222. Normal Procedure. — Normal procedure contemplates 
the organization of the defensive position before contact with 
the enemy is established, at least six hours being generally 
considered the minimum time required to so organize a defen- 
sive position. The paragraphs immediately following discuss 
"What A Weapons Company Commander Thinks About" in 
such situations. Special conditions, (such as the employment 
of the Weapons Company in withdrawals or in very hasty 
defensive situations) require somewhat different methods 
which are indicated in latter paragraphs in this section. 

When time is short this normal procedure may result in 
the Battalion Commander issuing orders to the Weapons Com- 
pany Commander of the type quoted below: 

"Company H will support the defense. Place heavy machine guns 
in width and depth to cover the front and flanks of the platoon defense 
areas along the main line of resistance. At least one platoon will be 
placed in the rear part of the battalion defense area and will provide 


antiaircraft defense when not required for ground missions. Report 
position areas assigned to the 81mm mortars and their primary target 
areas. Rifle company commanders have been instructed to coordinate 
the fires of their light machine guns with the heavy machine guns of 
the weapons company as requested by you. Submit a sketch showing 
the plan of fires of all machine guns and the mortar platoon, to include 
planned long range fires, final protective fires and fires within the 

Upon receipt of such orders, the Weapons Company 
Commander proceeds with his estimate of the situation and 
reconnaissance, reaches his decision regarding how he will em- 
ploy his platoons to carry out the mission assigned, makes his 
detailed plan and then issues appropriate orders. 

223. Reconnaissance. — Reconnaissance of the weapons com- 
pany commander covers — 

a. The foreground of the position; terrain affording 
covered routes of approach ; terrain features covering possible 
final assembly positions for hostile forces ; firing positions for 
enemy heavy infantry weapons; defiladed areas. 

b. The interior of our own position; location of obser- 
vation posts covering entire foreground; firing positions for 
execution of final protective missions and long-range machine- 
gun and mortar fires (usually not nearer than 400 yards for 
machine guns and 200 yards for mortars to MLR) facilities 
for the movement of machine guns into primary positions 
from supplementary positions; gaps in band of machine-gun 
fire which must be covered by rifle, automatic rifle, mortar or 
artillery fire. 

c. In his reconnaissance the weapons company com- 
mander is assisted by his reconnaissance officer, who should 
be prepared at all times to advise his company commander 
as to positions, routes thereto and target areas. The recon- 
naissance officer supervises the execution of the company com- 
mander's orders in connection with the distribution of target 
areas, computation of fire data, selection and installation of 
observation posts and establishment of signal communication 
within the company. 

224. Fire Plan. — As a result of his estimate of the situation 
and reconnaissance, the weapons company commander submits 
recommendations to the battalion commander for the estab- 
lishment of the battalion fire plan. He indicates the sectors 
of fire of the machine guns, the targets or target areas of the 
mortars, the firing positions of each weapon, and the dead 
space in the bands of machine-gun fire which cannot be 
covered by the mortars and should be covered by artillery or 
rifle companies (Fig. 53.). The fires of the heavy machine 
guns must be coordinated with rifle and light machine-gun 
fires of the battalion defense area and every effort made to 


cover the entire battalion front with bands of automatic 
weapon fire. It is also necessary to coordinate heavy machine- 
gun fires on main line of resistance with similar fires' in 
adjacent sectors. The fires of the mortars are similarly co- 
ordinated. The weapons company commander's report is often 
made in the form of a sketch or overlay. After the fire plan 
has been approved by the battalion commander, the execu- 
tion of it is the responsibility of the weapons company com- 

When preparing the fire plan it should be noted that the 
machine-gun fires in the early stages of the defense of a posi- 
tion are not delivered from the main line of resistance; they 
are delivered either from guns stationed with the combat 
outpost, or from rear guns delivering overhead fires from 
masked positions. Fires from the main line of resistance are 
withheld until the proximity of the hostile infantry compels its 
supporting artillery to lift its fires. (For detailed employment 
of the Machine-Gun Platoon in Defense see Sec. 9.) The fire 
plan should- consider all these types of fires, giving careful 
consideration to movement between firing positions if that be 
necessary and should include planned (scheduled) fires for 
the 81mm mortar platoon in addition to their Primary Targets. 

Where time is limited and the weapons company com- 
mander does not have an opportunity to prepare a fire plan, 
the platoons occupy the most available firing positions to give 
prompt support to the front line or to defend the ground from 
position on which they are located. Later, following the 
weapons company commander's reconnaissance, the platoons 
are redisposed to best advantage. 

After plans for the defensive fires have been prepared 
they must be carefully checked with those of the artillery, 
and of adjacent units to insure that all parts of the front are 
adequately covered. Signals must be provided, and all con- 
cerned notified, for the laying down of the final protective fires 
(final protective line, mortar primary targets and artillery 
normal barrages). Information must be obtained from the 
battalion commander and the commander of the reserve com- 
pany regarding any planned counterattacks, and appropriate 
fires planned and arranged in support of such counterattacks 
(if and when they are executed). As these plans develop the 
exact positions of the primary, alternate and supplementary 
emplacements of the weapons must be checked to insure that 
the guns and mortars are placed at the exact spots where they 
can do the defense the most good. Conditions under which 
movement from primary (or alternate) positions to supple- 
mentary positions (for contingent missions) is to be made 
must be decided and announced to those concerned. 

225. Orders. — The order of the weapons company commander 
includes, either in appropriate parts of his complete five para- 
graph order, or by fragmentary orders, the following points: 


a. Hostile and friendly situation. 

b. Course of the main line of resistance. 

c. General position areas for sections (or platoons 
where these form separate echelons) of the machine guns and 

d. Machine-gun sectors of fire and mortar targets in 
front of the main line of resistance; target areas for long- 
range machine-gun fires; final protective fires; concentrations 
and target priorities. 

e. Conditions for opening fire in each position ; 
measures for antiaircraft defense. 

f . Signals for movement from supplementary positions. 

g. Priority of construction of emplacements ; measures 
for concealment; communication trenches; camouflage. 

h. Ammunition supply. 

i. Communications (telephone and light signals). 

j. Command posts of the Company and Battalion, and 
locations of observation posts. 

(Note that the general position areas for the weapons 
are designated by the weapons company commander; the 
actual selection of the exact spots for the primary, alternate 
and supplementary emplacements, and the siting of the 
weapons are the responsibility of the platoon commanders.) 

The company commander post should be near the Bat- 
talion CP. Communication to platoons is usually by messenger. 

226. Priority of Work and Supervision. — Having issued ap- 
propriate orders for the occupation, organization and defense 
of the position the Weapons Company Commander must con- 
stantly supervise and inspect to see that his orders are being 
carried out. The incidental work, such as erection of tactical 
wire along the final protective lines, clearing fields of fire, 
digging and camouflaging emplacements, arrangements for 
observation posts, command posts, communication, and such 
details all require decisions and definite actions on the part of 
the company commander. 

227. Action During Attack. — During a hostile attack, the 
weapons company commander continues to observe the action, 
preferably from a point where the platoons and their fires can 
be watched. When the situation requires changes in missions 
or locations of platoons, the weapons company commander 
directs such changes. Emergency changes are promptly re- 
ported by him to the battalion commander. The company 
commander keeps close contact with the battalion commander 
throughout the engagement and maintains communication be- 
tween his observation point and his platoons usually through 
his messengers. 


The actual defense is conducted according to prear- 
ranged plans. These plans must be flexible enough to meet the 
inevitable surprises of combat and are based upon the capa- 
bilities of the enemy. After the combat commences these 
prearranged plans should be carried out. Attempts to devise 
new plans on the spur of the moment to meet the changing 
conditions of the battle usually fail. For example, plans of 
action to be adopted in the event small enemy parties infil- 
trate to the rear of the defenders' positions should be made 
and announced in advance. Likewise, if some forward defense 
areas are lost to the enemy, the defense should continue from 
the remainder of the areas and the defensive fire plans should 
have considered (and prepared for) that contingency. Move- 
ment of machine guns or mortars while they are actually 
under fire should seldom be attempted. 

If the defender has had at least six hours to carefully 
coordinate his fires, emplace and camouflage his weapons and 
clear his fields of fires he should not attempt to change his 
carefully planned arrangements during the course of the 

228. Antiaircraft Missions. — The heavy machine-gun pla- 
toons are habitually employed in antiaircraft missions as 
designated by the weapons company commander upon orders 
of the battalion commander. 

In bivouac the company commander emplaces the 
machine guns to cover the area, using all guns. He arranges 
relief at the guns and sees that they are in constant readiness 
for action. The commander of the troops in the bivouac area 
establishes the antiaircraft warning system, and the weapons 
company commander informs the platoon commanders of the 
signals. The weapons company commander also arranges for 
the distribution of his machine guns throughout a column for 
antiaircraft protection while on the march. 

229. Hasty Defense. — When taking up a hasty defense, such 
as during reorganization following an attack, or during lulls in 
an action, the platoons of the weapons company are often at- 
tached to the forward rifle companies. However, they should 
revert to centralized control as soon as the necessary arrange- 
ments can be made, as only under centralized control can 
these weapons (machine-guns and 81mm mortars) reach their 
maximum defensive powers. 

230. Delaying Action. — The machine guns and mortars are 
usually attached to rifle companies by order of the battalion 
commander for the execution of delaying missions. There may 
be situations, however, when the weapons company would be 
ordered to execute a delaying mission, with rifle platoons at- 
tached for protection. 


231. Supply. — The weapons company commander is respon- 
sible for all supplies to his company. He makes provision for 
them in advance and sees that the company requirements are 

232. Ammunition.-— When possible, ammunition is placed 
upon the positions. The requirements of the company are 
anticipated and arrangements made by the weapons company 
commander in advance. Calls for ammunition are made direct 
to the battalion ammunition distributing point by the platoon 

233. Transportation. — Transportation is provided by hand 
carts and by four one-quarter ton trucks. 





234. Headquarters Company, Infantry Battalion, Composi- 
tion and Armament. — The Headquarters Company of the 
Marine Infantry Battalion consists of — 



a. Battalion Headquar- 

b. Company Headquar- 

c. Intelligence Section. 

d. Supply Section. 

e. Medical Section. 

f. Communication Pla- 














CAL30, M-l 



(1) The Battalion 
Headquarters consists of a Lieu- 
tenant Colonel who is the bat- 
talion commander, a Major ex- 
ecutive officer who is second-in- 
command, and the battalion 

The Battalion Staff has 
four sections and consists of 
a Captain who is the Plans & 
Training Officer (Bn-3), a lieu- 
tenant who is the battalion adjutant and personnel officer 
(Bn-1) and commands the Headquarters Company; a lieuten- 
ant intelligence officer (Bn-2) who is also the battalion gas 
officer, and a lieutenant supply officer (Bn-4). There are in 
addition as members of the Staff two naval medical officers, 
one of whom is the Battalion Medical Officer and commander 
of the Medical Section. There are also two lieutenant liaison 
officers who maintain liaison between Regimental and Bat- 
talion headquarters and are available for liaison with adjacent 
units. The weapons company commander and the lieutenant 
who commands the Communication Platoon, also serve as staff 
officers in addition to their command duties. 

Twelve enlisted men, headed by a Sergeant Major, 
assist with the administrative duties, handle the Headquarters 
Mess and drive the 4 trucks assigned as battalion weapons 


(2) The Company Headquarters consists of the 
Battalion Adjutant and 14 enlisted men, who are the clerks, 
cooks and field musics for the entire company. 

(3) The Intelligence Section has 12 enlisted men, 
headed by a platoon sergeant who is chief of section. There 
are three corporals, one of whom is the chief observer, one is 
chief scout and one a draftsman. Of the 8 privates, 4 are 
observers, one is a recorder and clerk and three are scouts. 

(4) The Supply Section has six enlisted men, 
headed by a Supply Sergeant. Four of the men are clerks 
and two are assigned to general supply duties. 

(5) The Medical Section consists of 20 enlisted 
men of the Navy Medical Corps. 

(6) The Communication Platoon is commanded by 
a Lieutenant who is the Battalion Communications Officer. 
The Platoon consists of — 

(a) Platoon Headquarters. 

(b) Message Center and Messenger Section. 

(c) Wire Section. 

(d) Radio, Visual and Panel Section. 

(7) The Platoon Headquarters consists of the 
Lieutenant platoon leader, a technical sergeant who is Com- 
munication Chief and one private. 

(8) The Message Center and Messenger Section 
consists of one Sergeant Chief of Section, a Corporal who is the 
code clerk and six Privates, one of whom is a clerk and 5 

(9) The Wire Section consists of a Sergeant Chief 
of Section, three Corporals who are wire team chiefs and 11 
Privates, six of whom are linemen, three switchboard opera- 
tors and two truck drivers. 

The Radio, Visual and Panel Section consists of a Ser- 
geant Chief of Section, two Corporals and four Privates who 
are operators (radio, visual and panel). 

The armament of the Headquarters Company consists 
of 2 pistols, 27 carbines and 64 rifles. 

235. General. — In a defensive situation the 115 officers and 
men of the Headquarters Company are employed by order of 
the Battalion Commander in a manner best suited to carry out 
their assigned missions. 

236. Battalion Headquarters. — a. The Battalion Com- 
mander is responsible for the occupation, organization and 
defense of the area assigned his Battalion by higher authority, 
or ordered by the Battalion Commander himself pursuant to 
his general mission and developments in the situation. De- 
pending on these factors the latitude exercised by the Battal- 
ion Commander may vary within wide limits. (For detailed 


employment of the Infantry Battalion in Defense see Section 

b. The Battalion Executive Officer is also second-in- 
command of the Battalion. He coordinates the work of the 
staff and serves as principal assistant to the Battalion Com- 
mander. During the conduct of the defense he may remain 
with the Battalion Commander, but usually they would be 
separated; for example, if the Battalion Commander was at 
the observation post the Executive would be at the command 
post, and vice versa. 

c. The Battalion Plans and Training Officer (Bn-3) is 

the assistant to the Battalion Commander on matters pertain- 
ing to tactical operations. He makes the necessary recon- 
naissances and confers with other staff officers and the com- 
pany commanders. He is prepared to submit recommendations 
at all times for the defense or improvement in the defense of 
the area and assists in the preparation of orders under the 
direction of the Battalion Commander. From Bn-1 he learns 
the effective strength of the Battalion. From Bn-2 he learns 
the dispositions and capabilities of the enemy. Bn-4 advises 
him as to the state of affairs concerning the battalion supply. 
He gets first-hand information direct from the company com- 
manders and transmits orders direct to them in carrying out 
the Battalion Commander's plan of defense. When not other- 
wise engaged he remains in close proximity to the Battalion 

d. The Battalion Adjutant and Personnel Officer (Bn-1) 

commands the Headquarters Company and keeps up-to-the- 
minute records on the Battalion personnel. He must be able 
to advise the Battalion commander on the effective strength 
of the Battalion at all times. He handles the administrative 
details of the Battalion. He shares with the Communication 
Officer the duty of supervising the operation of the command 

e. The Battalion Intelligence Officer (Bn-2) keeps the 
Battalion commander appraised of the dispositions, strength 
and capabilities of the enemy forces confronting the Battalion. 
This he does through his observers and scouts, by contact 
with and cooperation of the front line company commanders 
and reports from higher and adjacent units. Outposts, 
patrols, raids and reconnaissance under cover of darkness, 
prisoners and other means are utilized by the Battalion com- 
mander to obtain information. The intelligence details are 
worked out by the Intelligence Officer, the information obtain- 
ed evaluated and the intelligence journal kept up to the latest 

The Intelligence officer is also the Battalion Gas Officer 
and is responsible for the battalion's defense against chemical 
attack. He arranges for the gas alarm and provides the warn- 
ing or signal system. He arranges for the decontamination 


of gassed areas. When not otherwise engaged the Intelligence 
officer will probably be found at the command post or at an 
observation post. He should be prepared to take over the 
duties of the battalion operations officer. 

f. The Battalion Supply Officer (Bn-4) is responsible 
for the procurement and issuance of all supplies for the bat- 
talion. He is usually with the rear echelon of the battalion. 

g. The Battalion Liaison Officer of whom there are two, 
are employed by the Battalion commander to effect liaison 
with Regimental headquarters and in some instances with 
adjacent units. The necessity for the closest team-work and 
coordination of the units comprising the defense requires liai- 
son between the headquarters of the organizations involved. 
When at Regimental headquarters or the headquarters of 
adjacent units, the liaison officers not only keep the com- 
manders informed of their own units' activities, but observe 
the activities of the organizations to which they have been 
sent and keep themselves prepared to transmit full informa- 
tion to their battalion commander. 

h. The Battalion Medical Officer and his assistants are 
responsible for maintaining the battalion aid station and of 
rendering every assistance to the wounded and the sick, and 
for their evacuation to field hospitals in conjunction with the 
Medical Battalion. 

237. Company Headquarters. — The field musics and other 
enlisted men of the Company Headquarters available for 
messenger duty accompany the Battalion Commander or are 
assigned by him to other officers of the Staff. 

The clerks and cooks are stationed with the rear echelon 
which is usually located well back from the forward areas in 
a covered and protected position permitting the carrying on 
of the battalion administrative work and the preparation of 

238. Intelligence Section. — The Platoon Sergeant, Chief of 
Section, supervises the employment of the Intelligence Section 
personnel under the direction of the Battalion Intelligence 

Five observers, including the Corporal Chief Observer, 
are available for duty at the battalion observation posts. 

One scout from the Intelligence Section may be assign- 
ed to each rifle company and assists with the collection of 
intelligence data. Their work is coordinated by the Corporal 
Chief Scout. 

The Corporal draftsman remains at the Battalion CP 
and is in charge of the situation maps. He also makes over- 
lays and sketches under the direction of the Battalion Com- 
mander or a staff officer. 


The Recorder and Clerk is likewise at the Battalion 
CP and is charged with the maintenance of the battalion 
journals, and such other clerical duties as may be assigned 

239. Supply Section. — The Battalion Supply Section, consist- 
ing of 6 men, is engaged more in administrative duties in con- 
nection with supply than in the actual handling of supplies. Of 
the six men, one is a Supply Sergeant and three are clerks, 
leaving two men for general duty. The section functions 
under the direction of the Battalion Supply Officer and is 
responsible for the procurement and issuance of all supplies 
for the battalion. The impetus of supply, however, is from the 
rear, supplies being delivered to the battalion defense area 
by the supply agencies of the Regiment. The Battalion Supply 
Section arranges for their distribution to the companies. 

240. Medical Section. — The Medical Section functions under 
the direction of the Battalion Medical Officer and his assistant. 
Of the 20 Navy hospital corpsmen available for duty, two 
may be assigned to each company of the battalion and the 
remainder are on duty at the battalion aid station. 

241. Communication Platoon. — The Communication Platoon 
operates the Battalion communication system within the 
battalion defense area. Communication is maintained with 
higher authority and with adjacent units and in a stabilized 
defensive situation quite elaborate communications may be 
installed with the subordinate units. 

The Message Center and Messenger Section is the clear- 
ing house for all messages sent or received by the Battalion 

The Wire Section is responsible for the laying and 
maintaining of telephone wires between the OP's and CP and 
to other units within the battalion defense area and to adjacent 
units when telephonic communication with them is desired 
by the Battalion commander. Normally, communication 
facilities are provided by the higher authority to its subor- 
dinate units, thus the wire from the Regimental command 
post to the battalion command post would be layed and main- 
tained by the Communications Platoon of the Regimental 
Headquarters and Service Company. 

The Radio, Visual and Panel Section operates the battal- 
ion radio equipment, furnishes signalmen for semaphore 
messages and lays out the panels for communication with 

242. Transportation. — Two one-quarter ton trucks are 
assigned the Headquarters Company, for the Communication 



243. The Infantry Battalion, Composition and Armament. — 

The Marine Infantry Battalion consists of — 
a. Headquarters Com- 



Weapons Company. 

c. 3 Rifle Companies. 

For composition and arm- 
ament of the Headquarters Com- 
pany see Par. 234. 

For composition and arm- 
ament of the Weapons Company 
see Par. 219. 

For composition and arm- 
ament of the Rifle Company see 
Par. 119. 

The total strength of the 
Battalion consists of 36 officers, 
of whom two are Naval medical 
officers, and 895 men, of whom 
20 are Naval hospital corpsmen. 

The total armament of 
the Battalion consists of: 

176 Carbines, .30 cal., Ml. 
(Pistols will be furnished until 
carbines are available.) 

27 Dischargers, grenade. 

24 Heavy Machine Guns, 
cal. .30. 

6 Light Machine Guns, 
cal. .30. 

12 Thompson Submachine 

2 AA-AT Guns, 20mm. 
(Cal. .50 or 37mm guns will be 
furnished until new 20mm AA- 
AT gun is available.) 

31 Grenade launchers, 



6 Mortars, 60mm. 

4 Mortars, 81mm. 

3 Pistols. 
667 Rifles. 
667 Bayonets. 
62 Automatic Rifles. 

9 Antitank Rifles, 










CAL. 30, AM 







CAL. 60, AA-AT 


CAL. 30 


20mm AA-AT 

MORTARS 60 mm 

MORTARS 81 mm 





Should the rifle squads be increased to 13 men, the 
total enlisted strength of the Battalion would be increased 
from 895 to 994 men. The officer strength would remain the 
same, 36 USMC and 2 USN, or an aggregate strength of 1,032. 

The Battalion is commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel, 
with a Major as Executive Officer and second-in-command. It 
is the smallest tactical unit with a Staff. (For detailed employ- 
ment of the Battalion Staff in defense see Section 11.) 

244. General. — The Battalion takes up the defense when it 
is ordered to do so by higher authority or when it is neces- 
sary to do so pursuant to the general mission assigned the 
Battalion or as a result of developments in the situation. 

When the Battalion is part of a larger force, the area it 
is to occupy, organize and defend will be assigned to it by 
higher authority, along with specific orders for the part it is 
to play in the defense. When the defense is assumed on orders 
of the Battalion Commander, the area to be defended will, 
insofar as it is practical, be selected by the Battalion Com- 
mander. Depending on these factors the latitude exercised 
by the battalion commander may vary within wide limits. 

The area to be defended by a battalion will vary in 
size according to the character of the terrain. The battalion 
frontage will vary from 800 to 1,500 yards, each company on 
the main line of resistance defending a front of from 400 to 600 
yards. The depth of the company areas will also vary from 
400 to 600 yards, while the total depth of the battalion area 
will range from 700 to 1,200 yards. (Fig. 1.) Terrain and 
defense are inseparable, for it is the terrain that is defended 
and denied to the enemy. The commander ties in his defense 
position with the terrain and takes every advantage of it. One 
of his first considerations is to determine the key point, usually 
a terrain feature, which, if captured, would give the enemy 
necessary observation to continue attack against regimental 
reserve area. The possession of this point is vital to the 
success of the defense of the battle position. 

Upon receipt of the regimental defense order, or when 
confronted with a situation requiring the assumption of the 
defensive, the Battalion Commander studies his map, confers 
with members of his staff (determines the key point and 
favorable avenues of hostile approach ; formulates tentative 
plan of defense and route of reconnaissance. 

The tentative plan of defense is the distribution of 
rifle companies to combat echelon and reserve, pending the 
formulation of his defense plan and issuance of battalion 
defense order. 

In any event, the Battalion Commander will make a 
reconnaissance and estimate of the situation confronting him, 
decide upon a plan of defense consistent with the orders given 
him by higher authority, or, if acting alone, to meet the situa- 
tion, issue the necessary orders to carry it out and supervise 
the conduct of the defense. 


245. Reconnaissance. — Wherever practicable, the occupation 
of a defensive position is preceded by the personal reconnais- 
sance of the battalion commander, accompanied by the artil- 
lery liaison officer when artillery is in support of the battalion, 
the commander of the heavy weapons company, and such other 
personnel as he may direct. 

a. The reconnaissance bears first upon the terrain of 
hostile approach. It seeks to determine: 

(1) Areas which afford covered approach to the 
position or which could be used to screen the location of hos- 
tile reserves and supporting weapons. 

(2) Obstacles and exposed stretches of terrain 
over which the enemy must pass, especially crests, edges of 
woods, village exits and defiles. 

(3) Commanding features of the terrain which 
may be expected to be occupied as hostile observation posts; 
and areas within the defensive position which would be exposed 
to hostile observation. 

(4) Terrain features in the foreground which in 
friendly possession would screen important defensive areas 
from hostile observation, favor long-range fire action, and 
constitute the best available positions for security detach- 

(5) Defiladed areas where hostile forces might 
assemble for attack within the range of friendly supporting 

b. The detailed reconnaissance of the defensive posi- 
tion or area seeks to determine: 

(1) Points from which observation of the fore- 
ground of the position can be most effectively carried out. 

(2) Locations from which approaches to the posi- 
tion can be most effectively swept by frontal and flanking 

(3) Masks within the position which can be used 
to screen the location of reserves, the emplacements of anti- 
aircraft and heavy weapons, and the approaches from the 

(4) Areas most menaced by probable avenues of 
hostile approach and fronts along which artificial obstacles to 
tank attack are most necessary. 

(5) Areas especially vulnerable to gas concentra- 

246. Plan of Defense. — As a result of the Battalion Com- 
mander's reconnaissance and estimate of the situation he 
arrives at a decision as to how best to defend the area and 
accordingly perfects a plan to carry it into effect. The plan 
will include provisions for : 

a. Security. 


b. Combat Intelligence. 

c. Distribution of troops and weapons. 

d. Organization of the ground. 

e. Defensive fires. 

f. Counterattack. 

g. Communication. 

247. Security. — In developing his plan for security, the bat- 
talion commander will be influenced by the security provided 
by higher echelons. In some instances the division commander 
will have detailed a covering force to protect the command 
while the defensive position is being organized. Such an out- 
post may or may not be retained as a part of the organized 
division defensive system. In such cases, the battalion com- 
mander ordinarily would not detail a battalion outpost during 
the period of protection by division troops, except for local 
security. However, some situations may necessitate the 
establishment of a battalion outpost in addition to the cover- 
ing force of a higher echelon, as for instance, when a division 
outpost, by reason of its distance to the front of the position, 
cannot give complete protection to the battalion position. 

Under certain circumstances the battalion may be 
directed to provide an outpost for its defense area. Under 
other circumstances, as for example, when no divisional out- 
post has been established or when it has been withdrawn prior 
to hostile contact, the battalion commander, in the absence of 
instructions, must establish outpost protection on his own 

The instructions of the battalion commander to the 
commander of the combat outpost cover: 

a. Information relative to the enemy and friendly 
troops, especially as to any friendly troops operating in front 
of the outpost ; artillery and heavy weapons support. 

b. What the battalion as a whole is going to do while 
the outpost is on duty. 

c. Position and mission of the outguards; any special 
patrols to be sent out. 

d. Conduct in case of attack ; method and time of with- 
drawal; action on completion of mission; antitank defense; 
long-range fires. 

e. Administrative arrangements. 

f. Communications; signal light conventions. 

The security normally established under battalion con- 
trol is called a "combat outpost." It is usually placed on high 
ground about 600 yards to the front of the main line of resist- 


248. Combat Intelligence. — The development of the battalion 
intelligence plan is the function of the battalion intelligence 
officer who receives a directive from the battalion commander 
as a basis for the plan. This directive consists of an announce- 
ment by the battalion commander of the essential elements of 
enemy information for the particular time and situation. 
(For detailed employment of the Battalion Intelligence Offi- 
cer and Intelligence Section, see Pars. 236 and 238.) 

249. Distribution of Troops and Weapons. — a. Rifle compa- 
nies. — Rifle companies should be assigned sectors (defensive 
areas) which will most effectively protect the battalion key- 
point by covering with fire the routes of enemy approach to 
this keypoint. The platoons of each company are disposed to 
protect the machine guns of the battalion, and should be dis- 
tributed in width and depth throughout the battalion sector. 
The number of rifle companies which are to occupy defensive 
areas on the main line of resistance will depend upon the ter- 
rain, the situation, and the width of the battalion sector. 
Whenever the terrain, frontage and situation permit, it is 
desirable to place two rifle companies on the main line of resist- 
ance and one in reserve. This disposition will develop maxi- 
mum fire power in front of the position and also allow the 
designation of a suitable reserve. However, if the battalion 
sector is unusually wide or of poor defensive terrain, a greater 
number of the rifle company combat groups should defend the 
main line of resistance and a smaller number are used for the 
close in defense of the battalion keypoint. Likewise if the 
sector is narrow a smaller portion of the rifle strength may be 
assigned to defensive areas on the main line of resistance and 
a greater portion may be placed in the battalion reserve area. 
The width of the sector allotted a rifle company depends upon 
the natural strength of the terrain. Units defending on dif- 
ficult terrain are given narrow sectors while units defending 
terrain easily covered by fire are given wider sectors. Where, 
however, a portion of the battalion defense area is exposed to 
hostile observation and fire, such area may be left unoccupied 
and covered by fire from the occupied area, the heavy weapons, 
and the artillery. In this case distribution in depth (success- 
ive companies) is indicated. In all cases rifle companies are 
assigned definite tactical localities for defense. These locali- 
ties are so assigned to provide the best possible cohesion be- 
tween the respective platoon defense areas which will be 
located therein. 

b. Weapons company. — (1) Machine-gun platoons. — 
The cal. .30 heavy machine gun is the most effective defensive 
weapon at the disposal of the battalion commander. Since the 
three platoons of cal. .30 machine guns are a part of the bat- 
talion weapons company, the battalion commander is assisted 
in preparing plans for their employment by the weapons 
company commander. (See Sec. 9.) 


As hereinbefore stated, machine guns form the skeleton 
of the battle position. The battalion commander builds his 
defense upon them. While he has the benefit of the techincal 
assistance of his weapons company commander, the responsi- 
bility for the employment of the guns is his. He must per- 
sonally select or pass upon the selection of machine-gun 
positions by his weapons company commander. 

The heavy machine guns are distributed for the execu- 
tion of three missions : 

(a) Long-range fire from positions other 
than those in the main line of resistance. 

(b) Close defense of the main line of resist- 
ance by reciprocal flanking action, covering the front of the 
position by continuous interlocking bands of fire, in com- 
bination with the light machine guns. 

(c) Rear defense of the battalion area, stop- 
ping hostile elements which may have penetrated the main line 
of resistance. These guns may also deliver long-range fires in 
front of the position. Machine-gun platoons placed in the 
rear area are usually given antiaircraft missions for the pro- 
tection of the battalion defense area against hostile air attack. 

Consideration is also given to positions for the machine 
guns for the support of possible counterattacks. 

(For detailed employment of the Machine-Gun Platoons 
in Defense see Section 9.) 

(2) 81mm mortar platoon. — The battalion com- 
mander plans to employ his 81mm mortars to cover critical 
gaps in the final protective lines of his heavy machine guns 
which are not covered by other weapons, to cover important 
approaches to the position, particularly those which are difi- 
laded from the fire of flat trajectory weapons and light artil- 
lery, to fire concentrations within the position, and to sup- 
port counterattacks. Position areas for mortars are selected 
by the battalion commander. These areas must be such that 
mortars emplaced therein can accomplish the fire missions 
assigned to them. In addition, the areas should be sufficiently 
far in the rear part of the battalion position that the weapons 
will not be forced to displace in order to fire into forward com- 
bat groups that have been captured by the enemy. Mortar 
positions must be convenient to good observation points in 
order that the mortar fire may be controlled and quickly 
applied to targets of opportunity. Also, it is desirable that 
they be easily accessible to ammunition vehicles. Generally 
they are within 500 yards of the main line of resistance. They 
are usually distributed over a depth of from 100 to 200 yards. 
Exceptionally, where the battalion occupies an extensive front 
or in close terrain where visibility is poor, mortars may be 
attached to rifle companies. (For detailed employment of the 
81mm Mortar Platoon in Defense see Section 8.) 


(3) AA-AT platoon. — The battalion commander's 
plan for the employment of his AA-AT Platoon considers the 
measures necessary for the defense of his MLR against hostile 
tank attack. The plan should provide for the coordination of 
all the fires of such regimental antitank guns as may be 
attached and located in the battalion defense area. In its 
elaborate aspects, the plan calls for the extensive development 
of active and passive measures, and a coordination between 
these measures. (For detailed employment of the AA-AT 
Platoon see Section 7.) 

250. Organization of the Ground. — In his plan for the organi- 
zation of the ground, the battalion commander fixes the exact 
course of the main line of resistance, and with the assistance 
of the weapons company commander locates the emplacements 
and defines the sectors of fire of the machine guns, mortars 
and antitank weapons covering the main line of resistance. 
(Fig. 53.) He usually locates a dummy position of resistance 
not closer than 500 yards to the true position and prescribes 
the works to be constructed. Construction of the dummy 
position commences simultaneously with the true position and 
progresses concurrently with it. The plan includes provision 
for concealment, cover and protection for the troops and weap- 
ons. It contains the battalion commander's decision as to the 
type of work to be undertaken and the priority in which 
the work is to be done. When the time available for orga- 
nizing the ground is limited, the plan provides only for clear- 
ing fields of fire and construction of individual cover (fox- 
holes or slit trenches) for all members of the command. When 
ample time for an organization of the position can be foreseen, 
the plan may provide for elaborate trench construction, tank 
obstacles, extensive wire erection, highly developed camou- 
flage for the protection and comfort of the defending garrison. 
A well developed plan of ground organization adds to the com- 
bat strength of the battalion. 

The battalion commander exercises close supervision 
over the work of organizing the ground and takes action to 
prevent local congestion of installations, emplacements and 
combat positions. He usually delegates supervision of the 
construction of accessory defenses to the weapons company 
commander. Where practicable he checks the camouflage of 
field works against air photographs of the position and takes 
such corrective actions as may be necessary. 


251. Defensive Fires. — The fire plan of the battalion com- 
mander provides for the distribution and coordination of all 
organic battalion fires and the fires of all supporting weapons 
so as to develop their maximum effectiveness. (Fig. 54.) Since 
the power of the defense largely depends upon effectiveness 
of defensive fires, the importance of the careful development 
of the fire plan appears obvious. The development of the 
plan involves the siting of weapons and the assignment of 
sectors and areas of fire so that all the area in front of the 
battle position can be covered by some type of destructive fire 
and that fire can be delivered against the enemy if and when 
he succeeds in penetrating any part of the position. Thus, it 
is essential that the battalion commander make a careful 
analysis of the fires of subordinate units to avoid and elimi- 
nate duplication, to assure that all areas are covered, to see 
that fires give mutual protection to adjacent weapons and 
units, to assure the maximum development of flanking fires, 
and to see that fires are capable of being switched and shifted 
to meet unexpected developments in the enemy attack. 

The battalion fire plan also includes provision for long 
range fires. These are delivered by the outpost and elements 
attached thereto for long-range fires; and by machine guns 
firing from positions in rear of the main line of resistance. 
Machine guns firing from positions to the rear of the main 
line of resistance may, depending on range and the location of 
the several defensive elements, fire on areas in advance of the 
outpost, in the outpost position after withdrawal of the out- 
post, and on the zone between the outpost and the battle posi- 

The fire plan likewise includes provisions for final pro- 
tective fires. At least one-half of the heavy machine guns are 
assigned to positions and fire missions flanking the fronts of 
the main line of resistance. Their fires are combined with 
those of the rifle company light machine guns so as to cover 
the front with continuous bands of fire. 

The most urgent missions in the main line of resistance 
are satisfied first and fires within the position last. Portions 
of the plan are established concurrently by different agencies. 
Minor alterations of the original arrangements are frequently 

In addition to coordinating the organic battalion fires, 
the battalion commander coordinates the positions of artil- 
lery normal defensive barrages which have been allotted for 
the close-in protection of his battle position. Areas which 
cannot be swept by flanking fire by machine gun are desig- 
nated as positions for the artillery defensive barrages and 
for the normal defensive concentrations of the battalion 81mm 
mortars. In the coordination of these close-in defensive fires 
the characteristics of the weapons are considered, and assign- 
ment of barrage positions are made in accordance with these 


characteristics. This assignment of barrage positions gives 
preference to the high angle mortar fire in dense woods and 
in dead spaces which are difficult for the flat trajectory artil- 
lery weapons to cover. 

Artillery fires in close support of the main line of resist- 
ance are not placed closer than 200 yards to the MLR for 
75mm and 350 yards for 105mm. The normal barrage covers 
an area of approximately 100 X 200 yards, while the emergency 
barrage covers 100 X 300 yards, (75mm). (Fig. 53.) The 
barrages are definitely located by the battalion commander 
with the assistance of the artillery liaison officer. Long range 
fires, concentrations in support of the outpost and for interdic- 
tion, are plotted and numbered, and registered if practicable. 

The plan of artillery fires may be prepared upon order of 
the Battalion Commander by the artillery liaison officer, who 
submits it to the Battalion Commander for comments and 
approval. It includes a firing schedule and the various num- 
bered concentrations are fired upon call of the Battalion Com- 
mander, or by such other means as he may designate. 

The plan of defensive fires includes arrangements for 
firing on low-flying hostile aircraft. Antiaircraft missions are 
normally assigned the caliber .30 machine guns which are 
located in rear of the main line of resistance. When conditions 
warrant, certain machine guns in rear of the main line of re- 
sistance should be given the primary mission of firing on 
hostile low-flying aircraft. These guns occupy good antiair- 
craft firing positions and are kept in complete readiness to 
engage enemy aircraft within effective range. 

The conditions under which the various fires are to be 
delivered, including the signals for prearranged fires, their 
duration, the method of obtaining their repetition or continu- 
ance, the persons authorized to call for them, the units respon- 
sible for their delivery, and the areas automatically affected 
by calls for the various fires, are specially prescribed in the 
fire plan. Where practicable, fires are registered. 

252. Counterattack. — Because it is executed during the 
defensive battle, the battalion counterattack is, in fact, a phase 
of the conduct of the defense; but since it involves a special 
and extensive development, it is treated as a separate subordi- 
nate part of the general defensive plan. While the hypotheses 
for the counterattack and the conditions under which it is to be 
launched are prescribed by the battalion commander, the de- 
tails of the plan, except as pertain to the action of supporting 
units, are developed by the commander of the unit which is 
to make the counterattack. Indeed it usually will be necessary 
to prepare several plans to meet varying conditions, one plan 
of counterattack rarely being sufficient to cover all contingen- 
cies. The complete battalion counterattack plans, with the 
prescribed scheme of coordination, is the responsibility of the 
battalion commander. 


The Battalion Commander's complete plans for counter- 
attacks provide: 

(1) Line of departure and route of approach. 

(2) Formations. 

(3) Scheme of maneuver. 

(4) Objective. 

(5) Initial location and employment of machine 
guns, mortars, AT guns. 

(6) Artillery support. 

(7) Initial targets or barrages. 

(8) Signal to lift fires. 

(9) Subsequent fires. 

(10) Communications. 

(11) Location of command post. 

A counterattack is delivered when there are troops 
available for it ; when vital terrain is lost or threatened ; when 
lower units have no counterattack force available; when all 
available fire has been used. Otherwise, every effort is made 
to block the penetration. Indeed, troops that are dug in, in 
good firing positions, in sight of the enemy, are seldom used 
for counterattack ; they can do more good by firing from their 
prepared positions. However, if a mobile reserve has been 
held out, or the reserve is not able to fire on the enemy from 
its prepared positions, it may be considered as available for 

Supporting fires for the counterattack are planned by 
the Battalion Commander by his break-through machine 
guns and mortars in rear positions. Forward mortars continue 
assigned fire missions in front of the MLR. Weapons Platoon 
of Reserve Company reinforces the Battalion Weapons Com- 

253. Communication. — The battalion communication plan is 
the plan for the installation, operation, and maintenance of 
the battalion communications. The responsibility for develop- 
ing the communication plan rests with the battalion communi- 
cation officer, who commands the battalion communication 
platoon. This officer develops the technical phase of the plan 
in accordance with the general tactical plan of the battalion 

As a directive to the communication officer, the bat- 
talion commander announces the location of the battalion 
command post (and when appropriate, the company command 
posts), and the type and extent of the communications to be 
installed. Acting on this directive, the communication officer 
develops and executes the technical aspects of the plan. Since 
the location of the battalion command post is usually pres- 
cribed by the regimental commander, the announcement of 
its location by the battalion commander serves to advise the 


subordinate unit commanders where to communicate with 
their superior. The exact position of the command post on 
the terrain, within general limits of the prescribed location, is 
a decision of the commander, who, in arriving at his decision 
should consult the communication officer and receive his 
recommendations. An ideal command post location is one 
which provides cover and concealment against hostile observa- 
tion and fire, both ground and air. It should be centrally 
located in the rear part of the battalion area, generally in rear 
of the battalion reserve company position. It should be in 
proximity to routes leading to the location of superior and 
subordinate units. When consideration in the selection of the 
position conflict, that position which best facilitates the opera- 
tion of the command post should govern. 

254. Battalion Defense Order. — After the battalion plan of 
defense has been completed, in whole or in part, it is announced 
to the subordinate units in the form of battalion orders. If the 
order covers only a part of the plan the detailed development of 
other elements of the plan is continued and as they are com- 
pleted they are announced to the command in subsequent 
orders. It is therefore evident that the completeness of the 
battalion orders is dependent upon the completeness of the 
battalion plan. From this consideration it becomes evident 
that orders may be issued in either fragmentary or complete 
form depending upon the status of the battalion commander's 
defensive plan at the time the order is issued. 
The battalion order covers: 

a. Information relative to the enemy and friendly 
troops, including the mission of the regiment, units on the 
flanks of the battalion, covering forces, artillery, antitank 
and aviation support. 

b. General plan of defense; boundaries of battalion 
defense area ; exact course of the main line of resistance ; dis- 
tribution of rifle units to combat echelon, reserve, and where 
necessary, the combat outpost; any attachments to rifle com- 

c. Detailed instructions to rifle companies; missions 
and distribution of heavy machine guns; emplacements and 
target areas of battalion mortars; emplacements and sectors 
of fire of antitank weapons. 

Security elements ; location and mission of combat out- 
post and advance detachments. 

d. Supply; location of battalion ammunition point; 
aid station, arrangements for ammunition distribution, in- 
cluding amount to be dumped on the position if required ; dis- 
position of carriers and unit trains. 

e. Communications ; location of battalion command and 
observation posts and message center; telephone and radio, 


light wire local systems, panel stations and dropping grounds, 
signal light connection. 

' The provisions of the battalion defense order are ampli- 
fied by more or less detailed plans including : fire plan, plan of 
ground organization; counterattack plan; plans of antitank 
and antiaircraft defense. 

255. Occupation of Position. — The method of occupation of a 
defensive position varies with the situation. Where con- 
ditions permit, troops are placed in a position of readiness with 
proper provision for security, pending the reconnaissance of 
the battalion commander. Necessity for immediate readi- 
ness for action may, however, require the prompt deployment 
of the troops and the occupation of positions on the basis of 
information immediately available. In such case, the bat- 
talion commander distributes the rifle companies to the com- 
bat echelon and the reserve, defines the general location of 
the main line of resistance, attaches a portion of the heavy 
machine guns to rifle companies, and assigns sectors of fire 
to the mortars and long-range missions *to the heavy machine 
guns remaining under his control. In the continued occupation 
of the position, these initial measures are readjusted and 
expanded in accordance with the general procedure of more 
deliberately organized defense. 

256. Reserve Company. — The missions assigned to a reserve 
company vary with the nature of the terrain of the defensive 
position and the situation. According to circumstances, a 
reserve company may be employed : 

a. As a mobile unit for counterattack against hostile 
elements penetrating the battalion sector; or for the occupa- 
tion of provisional flank positions in case of hostile penetra- 
tion of an adjacent sector. 

b. As a holding force, extending in depth the zone of 
resistance constituted by the front-line companies. 

The battalion commander should decide carefully which 
of these two missions will be assigned to his reserve company, 
for having been given one of these missions, the company 
probably would not be able, during battle, to perform the other. 

The battalion commander fixes the location of a com- 
pany held in mobile reserve. He designates provisional depar- 
ture positions for counterattack against hostile elements pene- 
trating the battalion area and flank lines of resistance to be 
occupied in case of penetration of an adjacent sector. 

The position of the battalion reserve is frequently in 
proximity to the position of regimental antitank guns support- 
ing the battalion. Where this is the case, provision should be 
made for coordinating the dispositions and plans of the reserve 
with the contemplated antitank action. Protection of the anti- 
tank guns against hostile infantry may automatically result 


where a reserve company extends in depth the dispositions of 
the combat echelon. A reserve company held mobile for 
counterattack should, where feasible, occupy departure posi- 
tions naturally impracticable for tank movement or rendered 
so by artificial means. The counterattack is launched, after 
the passage of hostile tanks, against the hostile infantry fol- 

The battalion commander prepares the heavy weapons 
fire support of counterattacks. Heavy machine guns assigned 
as breakthrough guns and mortars in rearward positions 
establish a supporting fire base. Forward mortars, where 
practicable, continue on their assigned fire missions in front 
of the main line of resistance, taking rearward enemy elements 
under fire. The weapons platoon of the reserve company 
reinforces the heavy weapons fires. 

The reserve company does not ordinarily move into an 
adjacent sector to counterattack hostile elements, penetrating 
that sector. In this situation it seeks to protect the battalion 
area from being rolled up from a flank by occupation of a 
position blocking off the penetrating elements. 

The battalion commander prescribes the location of 
flank lines of resistance and the works to be executed. He 
also frequently details working parties from the reserve to 
reinforce the combat echelon in the initial stages of the ground 
organization of the position. Where a battalion outpost is 
necessary, he usually details a platoon of the reserve company 
to constitute the outpost. Where the position is occupied 
more than one day, provision for relief is made. 

The antiaircraft protection of the battalion reserve is 
provided by the heavy machine guns in rear positions (break- 
through guns) and the weapons of the reserve company. 

257. Withdrawal From Action. — In a withdrawal from action, 
the battalion commander usually receives instructions cover- 
ing the following : 

Location of the covering position. 

Initial position of the regimental reserve. 

Location of regimental assembly position or new 
defensive area. 

Zone of withdrawal. 

Hour of commencement of withdrawal. 

Transportation to be allotted the battalion. 
Based on the regimental order and other factors of 
situation, the battalion commander fixes the location of the 
battalion assembly area, order of withdrawal of the several 
elements, hour at which the movement of each element will 
commence, and route to be followed by each. 


258. Night Withdrawals. — In addition to the usual informa- 
tion relative to the situation, the order of the battalion com- 
mander covers the following: 

a. Information of enemy and friendly troops. 

b. Battalion zone of action and assembly position. 

c. Strength of the screening elements in each company 
of the combat echelon. 

d. Order and hour of withdrawal of each element as 
follows : 

An echelon of the battalion headquarters and head- 
quarters detachment, including message center and communi- 
cations personnel. 

Supply installations, including ammunition dumps; 
reserve supplies, carriers and trains. 

Reserve units. 

Elements of the heavy weapons company not re- 
quired to cover the final protective line. 

Support platoons. 

Platoons of the combat echelon (less screening 
elements) and machine guns flanking the main line of resist- 

Screening elements. 
The assembly position is generally located to the rear 
of the initial position of the regimental reserve. A location 
in the close vicinity of a route of communication is frequently 

Reconnaissance of routes to the assembly area is exe- 
cuted by daylight. Guides from the headquarters detach- 
ment are assigned to the several elements and instructed as 
to the routes of withdrawal. Where a stream crossing is 
involved and pontoon bridges are to be constructed, the pro- 
posed location of such bridges is ascertained and guides 

Where a road passes through the battalion zone, anti- 
tank v/eapons may be emplaced to cover barricades along the 
road, especially at communication centers. Otherwise they 
withdraw with the first echelon of the heavy weapons com- 

Machine guns covering the final protective line are 
attached to rifle companies of the combat echelon for the 

Company transport usually joins the companies in the 
battalion assembly area. 

259. Daylight Withdrawal. — Daylight withdrawals under ene- 
my pressure are so costly that they should not usually be 
attempted except as part of a carefully prepared scheme, 
such as delaying actions. When a withdrawal is forced upon 


us by the situation, and enemy action, it is almost always pref- 
erable to hold on until darkness before executing a with- 
drawal. In this connection it should be noted that the main 
difference between day withdrawals and night withdrawals 
is that fighting is expected during daylight, while night with- 
drawals can usually be made secretly and without general 
fighting. Under these conditions, daylight withdrawal under 
enemy pressure is generally best prepared by the occupation 
of an intermediate position between the combat echelon and 
the regimental reserve by a reserve company supported by an 
echelon of the heavy weapons company. 

The movement of the combat echelon usually takes 
place by echelon from a flank, commencing with the company 
less closely engaged or disposing of the most favorable lines 
of withdrawal. Where the regimental reserve occupies a posi- 
tion on the flank of the battalion zone, it is generally best, if 
consistent with other considerations, to commence the with- 
drawal on the flank nearest the reserve position. 

An echelon of the heavy weapons company, attached to 
the remaining rifle company and occupying positions in its 
rear, protects its flanks and covers the area vacated by the 
withdrawing company. It moves to the intermediate position 
when directed by the rifle company commander. 

The battalion commander seeks to direct the fire of 
supporting artillery so as to interdict hostile movement into 
the areas initially vacated and protect the flanks of the troops 
remaining in position. 

The company transport joins the companies at the 
most advanced point permitted by the situation and the ter- 
rain. The transport of the heavy weapons company may 
join the company near its firing positions when enemy pres- 
sure is not close and approaches to the positions are masked 
by terrain features. 

260. Delaying Action. — Delaying action finds special applica- 
tion in the combat of security detachments, especially rear 
guards and outposts. 

The battalion usually holds extensive frontages in de- 
laying action, in many cases double that ordinarily held in a 
sustained defense. 

The battalion commander ordinarily attaches heavy 
weapons to the rifle companies. Weapons carriers are held as 
close to the combat echelon as the situation and the terrain 
permit. The battalion commander is frequently assigned a 
platoon or section of regimental antitank guns and a platoon 
of light howitzers. 

The battalion executes delaying action by holding a 
series of positions affording fields of fire at long range or 
covered by an antitank obstacle. In any case, the greatest 
consideration must be given to practicability of the terrain 


for hostile tank movement. It is frequently advisable to 
leave unoccupied wide frontages which can be covered from 
adjacent areas impracticable for tank movement. 

As a general rule, hostile tanks to be dealt with in 
delaying actions are of the more lightly armored type, vulner- 
able to the fire of the battalion antitank weapons. The more 
heavily armored vehicles ordinarily do not appear until a 
strongly held defensive position must be attacked. 

261. The Reserve Battalion in Defense. — When a regiment 
occupies a defense area, it usually details one battalion as 
regimental reserve. The battalion plan of defense in reserve 
will vary from the plans of the front line battalions in the 
following particulars : 

a. Security. — The Battalion Commander provides for 
a system of sentinels charged with observation and warning 
of developments which require troops to man battle positions. 

b. Distribution of troops and weapons. — The rifle com- 
panies are usually placed abreast, depth being accomplished 
within the companies. The heavy machine guns are distri- 
buted along the general line. 

c. Defensive fires. — A fire plan is devised for interior 

defense of the area, to cover any locality captured by the 
enemy, and to support counterattacks. The weapons company 
of the reserve battalion may also be given a fire plan for 
exterior defense of the area, with the heavy machine guns 
coordinated with the fires supporting the front line battalions. 
The fire plan, however, must include close defensive fires for 
protection of the reserve position. 

d. Counterattack plan. — The battalion is disposed in 
reserve in positions of readiness to launch a counterattack. 
Detailed arrangements must be made for the movement and 
cover of the battalion from its assembly area to the end of the 
operation, when the principles of the rifle battalion in attack 
are followed. The regimental commander coordinates the 
supporting fires for the counterattack. 

A function of the reserve battalion may be to relieve a 
unit on battle position. The battalion commander keeps 
advised of the situation and constantly develops plans for 
rapid and effective employment of the battalion in this func- 

The weapons company of the reserve battalion is usual- 
ly assigned antiaircraft missions, and the battalion commander 
formulates and executes plans accordingly. 

262. Flank Battalion in Defense. — In a large defensive instal- 
lation, a battalion may be given the mission of defending one 
of the flanks of the area. 


The position of a flank battalion in defense must be so 
organized that hostile attack will strike it frontally. The 
enemy will either refuse to make such an attack, or be bent 
back if it tries. 

The plan of defense of a flank battalion includes: 

a. Security. — Counter-reconnaissance is undertaken 
and protection toward front and on exposed flank established. 
Obstacles are developed for enemy cavalry and mechanized 
attack, closely coordinated by the battalion commander with 
the area antitank defense plan. 

b. Combat intelligence.— Every agency of the battalion 
must be employed to detect at the earliest possible moment 
the approach of the enemy while he is still distant from the 
position, and to determine his strength and composition. 

c. Distribution of troops and weapons. — The distri- 
bution of the troops and weapons of the battalion are generally 
the same as an interior battalion, with companies disposed and 
the weapons sited to defend the open flank. 

d. Antitank defense. — Active and passive measures are 
taken for antitank defense, plus special arrangements for the 
construction of road blocks, tank traps, obstacles, etc. 

e. Conduct of defense.-— Provision is made for intensi- 
fied flank reconnaissance and rapid shifting of reserves and 
fire to meet hostile flanking operations. 

11797 MCS QUANTICO, VA. 1-4-43--20M